About half of children with depressed mothers develop depression themselves, three times the typical risk. Children of depressed mothers are also more likely to be anxious, irritable and disruptive than other kids. They’re also more apt to have trouble in school and turn to substance abuse later in life. Many perpetuate the cycle with their own kids. But successfully treating a mother for depression can provide long-lasting benefits for her children’s mental health, new research shows.
Translation: If you are depressed, or even think you might be, talk to someone about it. Ask your doctor or your child’s doctor for a referral to a mental-health professional that specializes in depression (or PPD, if applicable) or find a depression support group in your area. If not for your sake, then for the sake of your family. And if you think someone you know is depressed, this is just another catalyst to get them to get the help they need. One good resource to know about is www.postpartum.net, the website of Postpartum Support International. You can enter your zip code and find help locally. Volunteers will also answer your emails within 24 hours.
Despite all the publicity postpartum depression has had, some new mothers have been caught by surprise when it happens to them, and some medical professionals don’t recognize how serious it can be. “Nobody told me there was such a thing,” Kimberly Wong, a public defender in Los Angeles, told the WSJ’s Beck. Wong became severely depressed after the long-awaited birth of her daughter in 2003. Her obstetrician told her to take walks and make more time for herself. But Wong was so suicidal that she presented herself to a hospital ER and was admitted for treatment. She recovered—and founded the Los Angeles County Perinatal Mental Health Task Force, a network of agencies and volunteers working to raise awareness and expand resources.