I’ve been saying for years that I believe more women in the US get postpartum depression than the oft-quoted “1 in 8.” That postpartum depression statistic is based on data from the CDC that found a range of anywhere from 11 to 20% of moms get PPD. Most people like to say it’s 10% or, if they’re really adventurous, 15%. I know one expert who, after saying to the powers that be that he believed the numbers were higher, was told not to get hysterical. Sound familiar, ladies?
The truth is that people aren’t really tracking the numbers as closely as they should here. Good postpartum depression statistics are hard to come by. There is the information from the CDC, which looked at only a handful of states and at only self-reported cases. Given what we now know about how untreated postpartum depression affects both mother and child, I hope to see measurement being ramped up.
I recently reached out to both the CDC and the National Institute of Mental Health to find out how many women die of suicide in the first year postpartum in the US, and where suicide ranks among the leading causes of maternal death here. And you know what? No one had any idea, because they haven’t tracked it. They will now, hopefully, since I made so much noise about finding out. (MUCH gratitude goes to Kathleen O’Leary, head of the women’s program at NIMH, et al, for really making a concerted effort to look into this for me.)
A study came out this week from the Australian Institute for Health and Welfare which surveyed 29,000 mothers and found that one in five said they had postpartum depression, or postnatal depression as it’s called there. One in five. Could the numbers be that large here in the US? There’s no reason to believe they’d be much different.
One in five.
One. In. Five.
I absolutely believe that the numbers are higher than 1 in 8. Statistics can be deceiving, and they are only as good as the data that is captured. Many women who experience ppd suffer in silence. When a woman suffers in silence, the incident is not tracked or reported, therefore the statistics are lower than actual incidence.
agree with you 100% Pamela
I don’t even know how to stomach that statistic.
Scary isn’t a big enough word.
One thing that they will find when they DO begin to track the data is that the smarter doctors out there won’t diagnose their patients with PPD in their charts. My OB told me that I had PPD, that he was treating me for PPD, and that he didn’t want to put it in my medical record because I may have trouble getting medical insurance later, should I ever need to self-insure. He instead put that I was being prescribed Lexapro 20mg for PMS. I am thankful to have a doctor who looks out for me but it infuriates me that PPD has that sort of power, even on paper!
Love this, Katherine! You are absolutely right–finally the “research” is beginning to catch up with what we’ve all known for so very long, that PPD affects a staggering number of women, men, and families around the world. I think the only thing to add is that, while these numbers are staggering, we must never forget that PPD is treatable. If anyone is in that 1 in 5, they need to remember there are options out there and to keep searching until you find the one that works for you! Oh, and a huge “thank you” for being the one to “make noise” about the things we’re all upset about but aren’t as good at drawing attention to as you are! Hugs!:)
I don’t doubt it. And I don’t know how we’ll ever know, not only because of those who don’t ask for help but because it seems that so many aren’t officially diagnosed. But yay for tracking. I can’t believe that isn’t already done.
I’m getting a bit confused looking at all the different statistics. Is it 1 in 5 moms get PPD after a birth (or annually) or 1 in 5 get it at some point in their life time? Thanks for the clarification!
After any birth (first year).