September 23 marks the peak birth day in France. On this occasion and because there has also been some freedom of speech on mental health in recent months, Qare carried out a study on the taboo of postpartum depression in our society. To better understand this phenomenon, Dr Fanny Jacq, specialized in perinatal care, answered our questions.
The arrival of a child is not always a moment of happiness, contrary to what society wants us to believe. Pretending that everything is going well, telling yourself that you are a bad mother, a bad father and smiling in front of everyone is the lot of many young parents. More than you think. According to a new study by Qare, a teleconsultation specialist, published on September 23: “30% of mothers and 18% of fathers say they have experienced a depressive episode following the arrival of their child”*.
This insidious discomfort that occurs late after the birth of a baby is in fact a mental illness that is still very taboo in France, that of post-partum depression, also called “smiling depression”. Not to be confused with the baby blues. But what exactly is postpartum depression?
A disease that affects everyone
“Postpartum depression is depression with several symptoms. The person will lose the taste for doing things, they will be deeply sad, anxious, they will have difficulty sleeping, eating, crying and they may also have black and gloomy thoughts. Associated with this, she will convince herself that she does not take good care of the child, that she is a bad parent and above all, she will tell herself that all this is not normal ”, analyzes Dr Fanny Jacq, psychiatrist specializing in perinatal care.
Both mothers and fathers can suffer from postpartum depression. Some risk factors should be taken into account, such as “People who have a sensitive area of having depression, who have social and economic problems or even women who have experienced trauma in their previous pregnancies”, states the expert. Ultimately, no one is immune, not even newborns. Indeed, in the long term, if the pathology is not taken care of, it can have repercussions on the psychomotor development of the child. “Later, children can have an inhibited, shy, introverted personality, because often they are babies who did not want to bother”, underlines the psychiatrist.
Read also : September 23: why is it the day with the most births?
The taboo of postpartum depression
Unfortunately postpartum depression is still taboo today, for “60% of parents”. It continues to cause fear of judgment. “35% of mothers and 46% of fathers have not spoken about their emotions following childbirth, and 14% even say they felt ashamed”, demonstrates the study of Qare. In question, the injunction to the happiness of the company which sells motherhood as an always positive experience, “You’ll see, it’s the most beautiful experience on Earth, it’s just happiness” underlines Dr Fanny Jacq, but also the lack of knowledge on the subject. According to the survey, “85% of moms and 71% of dads say no healthcare professional has told them about postpartum depression”. Even worse, “25% say they still don’t know what it is today”, or 1 in 4 parents! One of the possible solutions would be to offer future parents several sessions with a psychologist, reimbursed by social security, during pregnancy but also afterwards. Either way, it is essential to communicate on this topic and tell parents that it is okay if they feel overwhelmed or exhausted, that does not make them bad parents.
* Survey conducted from August 12 to 26, 2021 by Opinion Way France for Qare, on a sample of 302 mothers of children under 2 years old representative of the French population and 124 dads representative of the French population.
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