Myths and Misconceptions About Postpartum Depression

Reviewed by: HU Medical Review Board | Last reviewed: October 2023

Becoming a parent is a life-changing experience that can bring unexpected challenges. One of these challenges is postpartum depression (PPD). Unfortunately, there are many myths surrounding PPD. These misconceptions can hinder understanding, support, and treatment for those who need it.1,2

In this article, we debunk some common myths about PPD, shedding light on the facts and offering a clearer picture of this serious mental health condition.

Myth: Postpartum depression is just the "baby blues"

Postpartum depression is not the same as the "baby blues." It is true that many new mothers experience mood swings, sadness, and anxiety in the days after childbirth. But these symptoms typically resolve within 1 or 2 weeks.1

Postpartum depression, on the other hand, is a more severe and long-lasting condition. It can last for months if left untreated. PPD involves intense feelings of sadness and hopelessness, as well as a loss of interest in things you once enjoyed. It also interferes with daily functioning and can cause significant disability if unmanaged.1-3

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Myth: Only birth mothers get postpartum depression

While PPD is more commonly associated with mothers, depression can affect anyone who becomes a parent. This includes fathers, same-sex partners, and adoptive parents. The hormonal and emotional changes that come with parenthood can trigger PPD in anyone, regardless of gender.1,3,4

It is important to recognize that PPD does not occur only in women. All parents who might be struggling need support.1,3,4

Myth: Postpartum depression is a sign of weakness

PPD is not a sign of weakness or something a person can just "snap out of." It is a medical condition, often made worse by hormonal changes, lack of sleep, and the challenges of caring for a newborn. Seeking help and treatment for PPD is a courageous step toward recovery, not a reflection of weakness.1-3

Myth: You can predict who will get postpartum depression

PPD does not discriminate based on socioeconomic status, age, or other factors. While some people may be at higher risk due to a history of depression, a difficult pregnancy, or other factors, PPD can affect anyone.1

Myth: Postpartum depression is only about feeling sad

While sadness is a common symptom of PPD, it is not the only symptom. PPD can show up in many ways, including:1,3

  • Irritability
  • Anger
  • Guilt
  • Physical symptoms like headaches or stomachaches

It also can affect a person's ability to bond with their baby, disrupt sleep patterns, and lead to changes in appetite. Understanding the many symptoms of PPD can help people get diagnosed and treated effectively.1,3

Myth: Postpartum depression will go away on its own

Ignoring PPD in hopes that it will resolve itself is not advisable. Untreated PPD can lead to dangerous and damaging effects for both the mother and the child.1

Postpartum depression is a treatable condition, and it can get better with the right support. Seeking professional help, through therapy or medicine, can greatly improve a person's well-being and help them build a stronger connection with their child.1,3

Myth: You should be able to handle parenthood on your own

Parenthood is challenging. Many new parents feel pressure to do it all themselves, but it is necessary to ask for help. Seeking support from family, friends, or professionals is not a sign of weakness. Having a support system can be very valuable in managing the challenges of parenthood, including PPD.1-3

Seek therapy and treatment

Postpartum depression is a real and serious condition. It can affect anyone who becomes a parent, regardless of gender or circumstances. Debunking these common myths helps to promote understanding, early detection, and effective treatment of PPD.1-4

Remember, seeking help is a sign of strength. No one should have to face postpartum depression alone. If you or someone you know is struggling with PPD, reach out to a professional. With the right care and support, you can recover from postpartum depression.