Black mothers and parents are more likely to experience postpartum depression than any other demographic, but support is available to help see you through this.
According to a 2020 report by the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, between 2014 and 2018, rates of pregnancy and childbirth complications rose. About 7 in every 1,000 pregnant people experienced complications during both pregnancy and birthing.
And although pregnancy and childbirth complications can affect people of any racial or ethnic background, they disproportionately affect minority mothers and parents ― especially Black mothers and parents.
Even in the period after childbirth, Black people are more likely to be affected by health conditions like postpartum depression.
Below, we’ll discuss the impact of postpartum depression on Black mothers, including how this condition is diagnosed and treated and where to get support if you’re experiencing the symptoms of postpartum depression.
What is postpartum depression?
Postpartum depression describes the type of depression that can affect people after having a baby.
Much like major depression, postpartum depression is a relatively common condition, affecting roughly
Postpartum depression can develop due to several causes, including hormonal changes, stress and anxiety, and even sleep deprivation. If you have been diagnosed with postpartum depression, there are ways to get the support you need so you can recover.
Postpartum depression affects mothers and parents of every race and ethnicity. However,
Not only are Black mothers and parents at a higher risk of developing postpartum depression, but they’re also disproportionately affected by the condition.
Results of the study found that not only did Black people experience the highest levels of childbirth trauma, but these traumatic experiences were significant risk factors in developing postpartum depression.
One of the reasons Black people are disproportionately affected by postpartum depression is because of the barriers to mental health care that Black communities face.
Factors such as a lack of access to services and racial bias from healthcare professionals, among many others, can make it difficult for Black women and mothers to get the care they need.
And even when Black mothers and parents seek treatment for symptoms of postpartum depression, they may not always get the diagnosis they need for treatment.
Postpartum depression has many of the same symptoms as depression. You might feel worthless, helpless, or hopeless. It can make it difficult for you to have any energy, motivation, or interest in your hobbies and life.
It can also cause symptoms like:
- difficulty sleeping
- trouble eating
- thoughts of suicide or self-harm
With postpartum depression, however, you may also notice other symptoms ― especially those related to your baby ― such as:
- feeling withdrawn from your friends, family, and loved ones
- feeling like you can’t emotionally connect with your baby
- having doubts about your parenting abilities or worth as a parent
- experiencing episodes of crying or anger, more so than usual
The realities of being a new parent, like lack of sleep and proper nutrition, can also compound the symptoms of postpartum depression.
If you or someone you love has been experiencing postpartum depression, there’s no shame in reaching out to a doctor for help.
You’re not alone
If you’re feeling depressed following childbirth, these organizations can help provide you with the resources and support you need to get better:
- Black Mamas Matter Alliance
- Black Mental Health Alliance
- Therapy for Black Girls
- Therapy for Black Men
- Black Women’s Health Imperative
- National Queer & Trans Therapists of Color Network
- Suicide and Crisis Line: Reach out 24/7 online or by calling 988 (in the United States)
Postpartum depression can be managed using a variety of approaches, including both therapy and medications.
Therapy approaches like cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), sometimes called talk therapy, have been shown to be effective for mental health conditions like postpartum depression.
Medication, especially when used in combination with therapy, can help ease some of the symptoms you may be experiencing. In fact, one
Learn more about coping with postpartum depression.
Community support for postpartum depression
Many local organizations have social and community programs to help pregnant people access not only prenatal care, but also postnatal care ― including mental health care.
Even if you’re not able to make in-person events, some organizations, like Postpartum Support International, offer national helplines and virtual support group sessions.
Learn more about healing trauma and depression in the Black community.
As Black mothers and parents remain disproportionately affected by childbirth-related conditions like postpartum depression, it becomes even more important to advocate for equity in healthcare.
And when it comes to treating and managing postpartum depression, what Black mothers and parents need more than anything is support ― support from family and friends, unbiased support from healthcare professionals, and equitable social support that helps Black communities access the mental health resources they need.