Understanding Postpartum Depression

By Courtney Lane - bio | email
Posted by Ellen Krafve - email

TYLER, TX (KLTV) - Postpartum depression should not be confused with the so-called baby blues - a much milder condition that affects more women. Instead, Brenda McBride with ETMC Behavioral Health says Postpartum Depression, or PPD, requires treatment.

"You have difficulty sleeping," explains McBride. "Sometimes you have difficulty bonding with the baby, feelings of hopelessness, helplessness, feeling overwhelmed, sometimes people have panic attacks, and it's a very real thing. During this time you can also have thoughts of harming yourself and harming your baby."

A different and even more serious mental illness is Postpartum Psychosis.

"The psychosis is rare, it's usually one to two in about 1,000 cases. But it's very severe and it requires immediate medical attention due to the risk of danger to the infant or to the mother," said McBride.

Doctors said if left untreated, severe depression or psychosis can lead to tragedy. As seen in such cases like Deanna Laney, the Lindale mother who stoned two of her sons to death, or Andrea Yates, the Houston mom who drowned five children.

"It's very easy for us as outsiders to place judgement on these people and the reality with Postpartum Depression, when they do have psychosis is very often the people that commit these horrendous acts they're unaware of what's happening and they're unaware of when they're doing it and they feel very real remorse after it's over," explained McBride.

A very real illness, but McBride believes patients still need to take responsibility. She says Postpartum Depression usually lasts several months, and can last as long as a year without treatment.