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Study: Many New Moms Don't Get Help For Postpartum Depression

a woman holding a baby
Toshimasa Ishibashi
Flickr/Creative Commons,
One in five new moms with Postpartum Mood Disorders doesn't report her symptoms to their doctors, according to a survey from NC State University.

Postpartum mood disorders are extremely common for new mothers. But a survey from NC State University shows that 1 in 5 don't report symptoms to their doctors.Clinical Psychologist and PhD student Betty-Shannon Prevatt says they cite stigma as the primary reason.

“They are afraid of being judged,” she said. “They feel like because their experience doesn't match that Johnson and Johnson's commercial, that they're failing as a mother or maybe aren't meant to be a mother.”

Prevatt says many new mothers deal with depression, anxiety or PTSD.

"We listed the criteria pretty broadly. And 1 in 5 still said, 'Yeah, I feel like I met it but I still didn't share that with a healthcare provider’.”

Because postpartum mood disorders are common, Prevatt recommends pregnant women consider setting up emotional supports for after their baby is born.

“Coming up with that support plan before she needs it might actually be a great, easy intervention,” Prevatt said. “Not only would it be great prevention, but if she were to experience that postpartum mood disorder, she's more likely to get assistance.”

Most of the mothers who didn't report depression and other symptoms said they feared stigma even though postpartum mood disorders are the most common complication of childbirth.

Rebecca Martinez produces podcasts at WUNC. She’s been at the station since 2013, when she produced Morning Edition and reported for newscasts and radio features. Rebecca also serves on WUNC’s Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Accountability (IDEA) Committee.
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