The Most Common Medical Complication of Childbirth
HealthyWomen, the nation’s leading independent, nonprofit health information source for women, today announced the results from a national survey of more than 1,000 women who are pregnant or planning to become pregnant about their experience with and knowledge of postpartum depression (PPD). The online survey, conducted by HealthyWomen and sponsored by Sage Therapeutics, sought to identify the perception and level of awareness of PPD, as well as any correlating communication gaps between expecting mothers and their healthcare professionals. The results show more education and dialogue are needed to increase understanding of PPD, despite being the most common medical complication of childbirth.
“With more resources available and more celebrities openly sharing their stories, I am surprised that our survey revealed many women and healthcare professionals are still not having the conversation about PPD and its signs and symptoms – which could lead to women suffering unnecessarily,” said Beth Battaglino, RN, CEO of HealthyWomen. “Here are the facts: an estimated one in nine women giving birth in the U.S. may experience PPD – you are not alone. It is important women who are pregnant or who have just given birth and their loved ones know the signs and symptoms – there is nothing to be embarrassed or ashamed about. Mothers need to feel supported and encouraged to ask for help. Receiving an accurate diagnosis and appropriate management of the condition are crucial, as PPD not only affects the mother, but can have a significant impact on the whole family.”
Key findings from the survey revealed stigma exists around PPD, as well as a lack of awareness and understanding about the condition:
More than half (51%) of the 359 women surveyed who had been diagnosed with PPD think it is an embarrassing diagnosis to receive.
Nearly a third (32%) of women surveyed said if they were to experience PPD, they would be less likely to have more children.
Awareness and understanding
More than half (51%) of women surveyed mistakenly thought it would or might be possible to prevent PPD, not realizing the rising and falling hormone levels between pregnancy and birth are believed to play a possible role in triggering it.
Less than half (38%) of women surveyed were aware that having suicidal thoughts can be a symptom of PPD, suggesting a need for education about the gravity of this condition.
Symptoms of PPD are not the same for every woman and may involve feelings of sadness, hopelessness, emptiness or anxiety, crying, rage, and self-doubt about ability to care for the baby, among others. PPD is often confused with the “baby blues,” which can affect up to 80% of new mothers. Unlike PPD, the “baby blues” do not require treatment and usually go away within 10 to 14 days. Still, more than half of women surveyed did not recognize that a mother experiencing symptoms for more than two weeks may be experiencing PPD.
In spite of PPD being estimated to affect approximately one in nine women giving birth in the U.S., more than half of cases may go undiagnosed without proper screening. To learn more about the signs and symptoms of PPD, visit www.SeePPD.com.
About the survey
In September 2018, HealthyWomen and Sage Therapeutics initiated an online survey in the U.S. among women, aged 18 to 49, who are pregnant or planning to become pregnant. A total of 1,064 women completed a survey of 15 questions about experience with and knowledge of postpartum depression (PPD). Results of this survey represent the findings of this sample population.
About Postpartum Depression
Postpartum depression (PPD) is a distinct and readily identified major depressive disorder that is the most common medical complication of childbirth, affecting a subset of women typically commencing in the third trimester of pregnancy or within four weeks after giving birth. PPD may have devastating consequences for a woman and for her family, including significant functional impairment, depressed mood and/or loss of interest in her of energy and poor self-esteem. Suicide is the leading cause of maternal death following childbirth. PPD affects approximately one in nine women giving birth in the U.S. and 400,000 women annually. More than half of these cases may go undiagnosed without proper screening. There are no FDA approved therapies for PPD and there is a high unmet medical need for improved pharmacological therapy in PPD.
HealthyWomen is the nation’s leading independent, nonprofit health information source for women. Our mission is to educate women to make informed health choices for themselves and for their families. For 30 years, millions of women have turned to HealthyWomen for answers to their most personal health care questions. HealthyWomen provides objective, research-based health information reviewed by medical experts to ensure its accuracy.