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Facing PostPartum Depression: The Honesty, Courage and Support it Takes to Seek Help

facing post-partum depression

Nobody would believe what an effort it is to do what little I am able” – Charlotte Perkins Gilman, the Yellow Wallpaper, 1892

It is wonderful to see the birth of a child greeted with warm enthusiasm and support. We celebrate the joy of a growing famil, and the excitement of a new life.  Relatives and friends often provide gifts and extra help.  But for some new moms, motherhood brings on many complex emotions besides the happy ones.

While we may greet a new baby with happiness and delight – not every woman will experience these emotions after childbirth. New mothers need understanding and support for ALL their emotions after the baby arrives.

These feelings include the ambivalent ones, the unexpected and confusing ones – and for some, the exhaustion, numbness and frightening thoughts that can come with postpartum depression or perinatal mood disorders.

More People Need to Know About PPD

I started working with women experiencing postpartum depression – or PPD — in graduate school.  I was lucky enough to get some career training from Postpartum Support International and more recently from the 2020 Mom Project.

I realized then, and still feel now, that this mental health issue does not get the attention it deserves.  All of us – from doctors to therapists to family and friends — can learn something to help.

Training with Karen Kleiman, Clinician, Author and PPD Expert

Meeting PPD expert Karen Kleiman, LCSW had been on my agenda for a long time.  She is the founder of the Postpartum Stress Center, and is a dynamic author, speaker and educator based in Philadelphia. I’m near Washington DC, so I took a weekend and traveled with a friend and colleague to attend her recent workshop.

What an experience to be in a training session with Karen!  She brings authenticity, excitement, brilliance and rich discussion to a topic that very much needs and deserves greater awareness.

Signs and Symptoms of Postpartum Depression

PPD is not the same as the “baby blues” – which are mood changes and adjustments during the first two weeks after childbirth.  Karen finds that 85% of women experience these normal and expected symptoms after childbirth. They usually resolve on their own.

Karen has found that:

  • 91% of new moms experience frightening or scary thoughts and feelings about caring for their newborn
  • 88% of dads also experience fearful or scary thoughts such as anxiety especially around the ability to care for their baby

It is normal to worry about the way you feel toward a new baby at first. But if your concerns last longer than two weeks, that is good reason to seek help from a doctor or therapist.



Facing PostPartum Depression: The Honesty, Courage and Support it Takes to Seek Help

Robyn Brickel, MA, LMFT

Robyn E. Brickel MA, LMFT, is the founder and director of Brickel and Associates, LLC in Old Town Alexandria, Virginia, which she established in 1999. Her insights for parent and teens appear in interviews in The Washington Post, and Washington Parent magazine, and she presents educational workshops for clinicians on the treatment of adolescent substance abuse and trauma. Her counseling and psychoeducational services provide treatment for recovery from trauma and/or abuse, including dissociation; addictions; adult children of alcoholics (ACOA) issues; body image issues and eating disorders; self-harming behaviors, including emotional intensity and instability; anxiety, depression, and other mood disorders; challenged family systems; chronic illness; co-dependency; dysfunctional relationships; life transitions; loss and bereavement; relationship distress; self esteem; GLBTQ and sexual identity issues/struggles; and stress reduction. She is a trained trauma and addictions therapist who has helped countless clients make and maintain positive changes in their lives. To learn more about Robyn E. Brickel, visit her website.


APA Reference
Brickel, R. (2016). Facing PostPartum Depression: The Honesty, Courage and Support it Takes to Seek Help. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 13, 2018, from


Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 20 Apr 2016
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 20 Apr 2016
Published on All rights reserved.