Risks of untreated Postpartum Depression (PPD) can harm a mother’s interaction with her baby, possibly impairing a baby’s ability to form a secure attachment. Not every mother or child will experience the full range of effects, but untreated postpartum depression may contribute to the following in mothers and their children.
- Being less sensitive or responsive to their baby’s needs
- Feeling out of sync with their child, being withdrawn or being unable to play with their baby
- Avoiding the child and/or partner
- Providing inconsistent or intrusive parenting
- Expressing little positive emotion toward the child, such as smiling
- Showing more irritability or aggression
- Experiencing increased conflict in the marriage or relationship
- Having difficulty knowing how to best soothe their child or baby
- Trouble breastfeeding
EFFECTS OF UNTREATED POSTPARTUM DEPRESSION FOR INFANTS AND CHILDREN
- Reduced duration of gestation, and preterm birth (depression and anxiety during pregnancy)
- Low birth weight (depression and anxiety during pregnancy)
- Insecure attachment/delayed bonding/withdrawn infant
- Excessive crying, difficult to soothe
- Developmental delays in motor skills: lifting head, rolling over, sitting up, crawling and walking
- Developmental delays in cognitive skills: the mental skills that guide how knowledge is obtained.
- Conduct disorders (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and aggressive behaviors such as conduct disorder and oppositional defiant disorder)
- Increased likelihood of having a mood disorder
- Increased physical aggression towards others
- Poor social and academic performance
- Studies show that by age 4 or 5, some of these children show impaired cognitive and intellectual performance
- By age 11, children of mothers who had untreated postpartum depression had lower IQ scores than the youngsters of mothers without postpartum depression. They also had greater problems with attention and mathematical reasoning.
Moms, if you or a loved one had a medical crisis like cancer or a broken arm, you would certainly prioritize immediate treatment for yourself or a family member. Postpartum depression is a dangerous illness that can have long-term, devastating effects for you and your family. Please don’t allow inexpert advice, isolation, shame, finances or embarrassment deter you from your journey back to health. You deserve to feel better. Reclaim your joy!