Heads-Up: Depression Isn’t the Only Postpartum Disorder


{♫Intro♫} Having a newborn can be a joyous experience but it can also be overwhelming. After all, you’re suddenly responsible for
this helpless, needy human being. And while they might be super adorable, they’re also not that interesting for a while. On top of that, there are all kinds of hormone
fluctuations, sleep disruptions, and potential complications from labor and delivery. So even if you’re not the one who gave birth,
there’s a lot to deal with. These days, it’s becoming more well-known
that things like postpartum depression exist, but the reality is, depression isn’t the only postpartum disorder
out there. Having a kid does some weird things to the
brain, and that can lead to or aggravate all kinds of psychiatric conditions. According to the World Health Organization,
up to 20% of people who give birth develop postpartum psychiatric disorders. These include depression, anxiety, OCD, PTSD,
and psychosis. And without screening and treatment, they
can take a serious toll on someone and their child. They can also happen to a parent who doesn’t
give birth. The research is more limited there — especially
when it comes to groups like adoptive parents — but data suggest that at least 5% to 10%
of new dads develop postpartum depression. And up to 18% develop postpartum anxiety disorders. No matter whom you’re studying, though,
figuring out what causes these conditions is extremely tricky, because there are so
many variables involved. Anything from genetics to finances could play
a role, and in general, postpartum conditions are still underdiagnosed and understudied. But even though the science isn’t crystal
clear, that doesn’t mean researchers have no idea what’s happening. Take one study of more than 8000 women in
England. It identified that two of the greatest risk
factors for developing any postpartum psychiatric disorder were anxiety and depression during
pregnancy. Other studies have found that having a history
of any mental illness before having kids seems to increase the overall risk, too. But that isn’t where their research has
stopped. For each of the major conditions, scientists
have also managed to identify factors that might play a large role. For one, they think social and environmental
factors play a huge part in postpartum depression and anxiety disorders. These factors include marital status, finances,
family support, food security, and more. And while research is ongoing, the general
idea is that these things may cause symptoms by influencing someone’s hormone levels
or gene expression. A good example of when this happens is with
postpartum depression. Its symptoms include overwhelming feelings
of sadness, severe fatigue, and loss of interest in daily activities. And in the U.S., it’s thought to affect
up to 1 in 5 parents who give birth. But the data also suggest that those numbers
can go up when people experience things like food insecurity or a lack of access to healthcare. Factors like this can also impact whether
someone develops postpartum generalized anxiety disorder, which involves chronic worry. And they can influence postpartum obsessive-compulsive
disorder, which involves unwanted thoughts and repetitive behaviors. Some conditions even have more specific environmental
causes, like postpartum PTSD — or post-traumatic stress disorder. Someone with this condition will feel severe
distress when they think about a certain trauma, and they will avoid things that remind them
of it. And in this case, the cause can actually be
pretty straightforward. It’s not true for all people, but postpartum
PTSD can happen when birth felt traumatic. Of course, just because scientists think these
factors play a big role doesn’t mean they’re the only culprits. Someone’s genetic background will also contribute
to their mental health. For some disorders, though, researchers believe
that things like genetics and hormones play an even bigger part. A good example is with postpartum psychosis. This is among the rarest and most severe postpartum
psychiatric illnesses, and it typically requires immediate intervention. Although it’s hard to get a clear estimate,
it seems to occur in roughly 1 or 2 people out of every thousand who give birth. And the symptoms appear within a few days
or weeks following delivery. Those symptoms start suddenly, too, and they
include paranoia; grandiose, bizarre delusions; and extreme mood swings. And unlike conditions like OCD or anxiety,
these impairments can be so severe that someone becomes in danger of harming their child. Thankfully, there are treatments for this
disorder, but because it can appear so fast and is so extreme, scientists have spent time
looking at the risk factors. So far, the biggest one seems to be bipolar
disorders. In fact, evidence suggests that postpartum
psychosis is actually just an extreme version of these conditions, and that it happens when
hormone changes after birth crank existing symptoms way up. The case isn’t totally closed on this, though,
since some research has found that at least half of those who ended up with postpartum
psychosis hadn’t been diagnosed with bipolar disorders. And there are also some data that suggest
that some cases of postpartum psychosis could be an extreme form of postpartum depression, or the onset or recurrence of disorders like schizophrenia. Regardless, it’s not a bad idea for those
with a history of these conditions to talk with their doctor before giving birth. Ultimately, though, understanding the risk
factors for all of these conditions is important, because they allow patients to make informed
decisions during or after having a child. Even just acknowledging them is great, because
lack of awareness, stigmas, or the belief that having a baby is supposed to be super
amazing can all leave parents suffering. But, hey. Having a new kid is a whirlwind, and there’s no shame if that takes a toll on your mental health. Just learning that these disorders can happen
is a good place to start, and the nice thing is, there are plenty of screening methods
and treatments available for them. So even if scientists are still trying to
pin down exactly why they happen, they’ve at least found ways to help. Earlier, I mentioned that postpartum depression
can present in both parents, not just the one who gave birth. If you want to learn more about that, you
can check out our episode about it. And as always, thanks for watching this episode of SciShow Psych. {♫Outro♫}

93 thoughts on “Heads-Up: Depression Isn’t the Only Postpartum Disorder

  1. 30 year old me: "Doctor, I have post birth depression." Doctor: "But you haven't birthed."

    Me: "But I was born"

  2. "There are plenty of screening methods and treatments for them."
    If you can afford them in 'Murica.
    ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)

  3. The mother of a guy I know had post partum psychosis. His mother refused to recognise him as her baby, and even threw him out of the window.

  4. I am a young woman who suffers from depression and eating disorder, and this video just captures almost everything I need to explain to people why I decide to be childfree. Pregnancy and motherhood require more effort than they are thought of, especially when we live in a (still) male-dominant world. People always tell me: you will change your mind some day. As if I am supposed to be able to be a mom and have all the skills and capacity needed to be a mom because I am born female.

  5. I do believe that preexisting conditions can be involved. I personally have known 3 people who had extreme depression, including a cousin who committed suicide, "so she wouldn't harm her baby".

  6. I just don't understand those that dislike perspective video about something relevant to the future, but may blame depression.

  7. 0:11 – 😂 Sing the truth sister! 🤣 To be fair, infants are amusing; they're just empty and useless for a—long—while.

    It's likely that the phenomenon of changelings is just postpartum depression/psychosis. 😐

  8. Depression is only a process of readjustment, the best way to handle a depression is to let it take its course until it finishes.

  9. I have postpartum PTSD. Its been a struggle, and most just dont get it, how do you get ptsd from pregnancy???? I hear all the time.

  10. I know someone who had postpartum OCD/ Psychosis where her main symptoms were intrusive, recurring thoughts of harming her baby, followed by an obsessive hiding and removal of sharp objects and ropes/ strings from the house. She finally got help when she decided the leave the baby with her mother so it would be safe. Her mom immediately recognized something was wrong, and she was able to go to the hospital and get treatment. Thanks for the video! Awareness about this kind of thing is so important.

  11. Thank you for making this! I gave birth to my daughter last November. I had no bonding issues with my daughter, so thought it was just normal baby blues. It wasn’t. I ended up with PPD, PP anxiety, and the potential trigger to unknown issues. I’ve fought depression since a teen but managed it well and was in a great spot when I got pregnant. Pregnancy I felt great mentally. It hit like a tidal wave about a month after returning to work.

    This needs to be talked about and the shame taken away. Many women suffer in silence out of fear. Fear they will be judged or their feelings will be dismissed. I’m lucky I have supportive partner, family and doctor but not everyone does.

  12. We got to talk about the difference between baby blues, depression and psychosis in my pregnancy group. Most of the other women had no clue about the differences. I knew ahead of time because of my past mental health. In a much better place but still making sure I stay mentally healthy for when my baby comes. 12 days to due date and making sure my man knows the warning signs too. I want to be able to enjoy my baby when he comes! I have waited years for him.

  13. My wife had pospartum psychosis. She is become crazy, moodswing and hyperactive. Twice. (Every time she give birth. I have 2 doughte). Its a scary time for our family.

  14. I read a news that might be something of this nature here in the Philippines. The mother and her other family think there's a monster (aswang) that has swapped the baby for something else so they threw the baby to the window. If I remember correctly, the baby was safe.

    This condition has only been known to me since a few months ago. It's amazing that this can explain some of the beliefs and weird things mothers experience.

  15. I wonder if the cost of giving birth (at least in the US) can cause post partum… it's one of several reasons why I'll stick with animals

  16. As someone that is very proactive in treating my mental health and strongly wants to have kids in the future (yes even after watching this), it has never occurred to me that my preexisting conditions could influence my postpartum experience to this extent. I just thought my methods and medication would just keep things normal… gotta love the influence of hormones 😂

  17. Once again I'm thankful for my tubal ligation!

    ….I can barely take care of myself some days. I woke up at 8 am today and didn't realize until 3 pm I hadn't had anything to eat or drink.

  18. The best way to beat postpartum depression is "the right to choose"; "no baby", no "Postpartum depression" !

  19. 25 weeks pregnant and terrified of having my baby. I already have generalized anxiety disorder and depression, I can only imagine how bad it’ll be after she’s born 😖

  20. Just about every sentence is structured with "can, may, thought to" come on now. You don't have to make a video on something with so much information up in the air. This sounds more like a thought experiment than scientific video.

  21. My second delivery was quite traumatic and I ended up with panic attacks whenever I got well wishes for us to have another baby. I never went to see my doctor about it, however, as that would involve having to explain and talk about it, which I was terrified would set off another attack. Not sure if it would have been classified as PTSD or just anxiety. Instead of seeing a doctor, I hitchhiked on my sister’s treatment for her panic attacks which developed after our mother passed away. My sister knew the story of the birth, knew what my panic attack felt like, and knew what her psychiatrist would have recommended. I was lucky she had such a similar experience… It took a good 6 months with her helping me before my panic attacks calmed enough for me to control them.

  22. I love how neutral you folks keep the language on this channel. By saying phrases like 'the parent who didn't give/gave birth', you are able to be inclusive of both adoptive family and trans parents as well as blood relatives and cis parents. No one loses out. Love ya work

  23. Instead of creating a new version of yourself to carry on your burdens, solve your problems and shortcomings first instead. I wish people could see that this is obvious.

  24. It would be obvious logically, and yet I'm sure most of us haven't heard of anything other than depression, and only in the context of biological mothers.

    Yeah, I'll stick with cats.

  25. Thank you for this. But it seems you forgot to mention how post partum psychosis can also happen in the father. It happened with my father but sadly he never got treatment

  26. Me: gave birth 5 days ago
    Scishow: here’s a video on postpartum disorders.
    Me: oh good, things to watch out for
    Scishow: bipolar disorder can cause postpartum psychosis
    Me: stresses harder because I have bipolar II

  27. Wait! So you're telling me that I may have legitimately developed OCD after having my son? That explains SO much.
    I have to say that I don't find newborns boring though. It's fascinating to see how quickly they start learning.

  28. Unfun fact: postpartum disorders are super horrible when you’ve had a miscarriage and are grieving as well.

  29. I dont know who needs 2 hear this….your life matters……hang in there we need your energy….time heals all wounds💯

  30. One of the problems of diagnosing mental disorders is that they often don't even present until people are in their mid-20s. If a woman becomes a mother prior to reaching 25, there's usually no way to know what her condition was prior to becoming pregnant.

  31. Really interesting! A family member of mine had postpartum depression. It seems like the biggest factor was the idea that parenting was 'the most wonderful, rewarding thing ever' and that no one else seemed to have had any problems (which obviously isn't true)

  32. I don't even know why I am watching this, becasue all I can think of is that I really could go for some scrambled eggs.

  33. This really isn't helping me want to have kids…There are so many risks to consider…Like, someone please convince me that it's worth it because HOLY HECK.

  34. I’m so glad y’all used inclusive language talking about parents who give birth!! Awesome job SciSchow team <3

  35. You mean poverty and food insecurity are bad for mothers and babies? And maybe this issue should be better addressed in the U.S.? Wow
    That aside, thank you so much. Very helpful to a 29 year old cis woman with bipolar disorder who has been debating having biological children or not (always wanted to foster and/or adopt). Carrying a child to term always felt like a huge risk.

  36. my opinion: Many women have their first baby, they can develop loneliness, Which can contribution of depression. Many of my friends could not have a conversation about anything without including something related to the baby. I do not want to hear about the baby’s first poop or endless conversations about diapers. I get it, having a child id as life changing event, and a miracle. But Jesus..

  37. The "inclusive language" in this is grating and annoying. It seems like you're going out of your way to deny the identity of women in order to appease the literal handful of snowflakes who don't identify as such. Hopefully in the future this will be recognized as the hate speech that it is.

  38. This is one of the reasons I don't want to ever get pregnant, not just because of my dysphoria. But, with my history of depression and my the mental disorders my parents have had to go through, I don't want to a) pass it on to my future kids and b) my hormones are fucked as it is so getting pregnant would probably make whatever's going on in my head worse. Scary situations I don't want to ever have to go through.

  39. “Postpartum depression can manifest in both parents, not just the one who gave birth,” Thank you for using gender neutral language 🧡

  40. My mother was an OB nurse in hospitals for years. Back in the day, people could afford to stay in the hospital for a week after giving birth. Mom says that the nurses would watch for, and assist the patient with, post-partum issues. Now, you can be sent home the same day of delivery. Patients are left with little or no support.

  41. Thank you for an interesting and informative, as always, video. I also appreciate the gender neutral terms used for the people who give birth : )

  42. if we are supposed to reproduce then why is it so traumatic, both physically and mentally? is giving birth for other mammals this traumatic as well?

  43. Pregnancy naturally suppressed my autoimmune disease. I felt great besides terrible heartburn. Post pregnancy my autoimmune disease was worse than ever.

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