When Katherine Stone, 38, of Atlanta, had images of her baby son drowning in the bathtub or being smothered on his burp cloth, she feared for her sanity. But she kept it from her husband as long as she could. Six years later the mother of two still feels judged for taking antidepressants for postpartum depression, and she believes there is a common misperception that depressed mothers are self-centered and weak.
Baby blues versus postpartum
No one knows for sure why some women experience severe mood problems after delivery. A mild, short-lived condition, the "baby blues," is nearly universal, afflicting up to 70% of women. "The first two weeks with a new baby are tough. But then most women get a better sense of control," says Ruta Nonacs, MD, associate director of the Center for Women's Health at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. "Then they figure out how to take care of the baby, gain some mastery over the new schedule, and have a sense that they're gradually getting back to where they want to be socially, professionally, and physically."