After giving birth to her first child, Chelsea Reiswig, like many new mothers, struggled with postpartum depression. But even as her child got older, the condition didn’t go away.
“I knew postpartum depression was a thing,” she says, “but I never really thought about it affecting me. I was not myself. I felt scared all the time.” Reiswig was jarred by the thought that this might be a condition that sticks with her for life. Six years later, Reiswig, 32, is still struggling with depression.
Anxiety and depression are common complications for mothers after childbirth, affecting as many as one in seven new moms, according to the American Psychological Association. For half of those diagnosed, postpartum depression (PPD) is their first depressive episode. But while the majority of PPD cases improve quickly with time and proper treatment, for roughly 38 percent of women diagnosed, PPD becomes a lifelong condition, according to a 2014 report published in the Harvard Review of Psychiatry. “You can absolutely have a postpartum-depression experience that is an isolated event and you never go there again, but it may actually be the first of multiple experiences,” says Carly Snyder, a reproductive and perinatal psychiatrist in New York City. For the women battling chronic postpartum depression, finding treatments that work and doctors who won’t dismiss their concerns can be major struggles.