Growing up, I have been told time and time again how much having a baby at a young age would ruin my life. There are a ton of consequences to having a baby so young, like financial burdens, losing friends, ruining your young body, and having a huge time commitment for the next 18 years.
However, the impact of postpartum depression on teen and young mothers is frequently overlooked.
The American Psychological Association describes that peripartum depression, more commonly known as postpartum depression (PPD), affects about one in seven women. PPD occurs during and after pregnancy, and many symptoms include depression, anxiety, loss of appetite, change in sleep schedule, and decreased energy
For me, I experience depression, anxiety, loss of appetite, change in sleep schedule, and a decrease in energy all the time — and I’m not even pregnant. That’s where the issue begins.
In an article entitled “Postpartum Depression in Adolescent Mothers” by Katharine J. Dinwiddle, Tracy L. Schillerstrom, and Jason E. Schillerstrom, the researchers highlight that many teenage mothers are still going through adolescent development, which causes turmoil that may make them more susceptible to PPD.
Another key piece of information in this article is there are little studies reviewing how PPD impacts teenagers. There should be more research to support other teen moms and learn how to help them more.
Postpartum psychosis in general should be discussed more. In a TedX talk, Auburn Harrison provides a personal account of her battle with PPD. Harrison is a successful Nevada-based business woman, but following her pregnancy, she started having violent feelings.
For example, Harrison discussed her ideations to start a gas fire in her home with her entire family sleeping inside. With this issue, Harrison decided to get help to protect her family and herself. Postpartum psychosis is a serious risk to family members and the individual themselves.
In an article from Kaiser Health News (KHN) in 2019 that debunks the myths of PPD psychosis, researchers found that 99 new mothers have committed suicide in California. With this, investigators found that 98 of these deaths could have been prevented with mental health intervention methods. These statistics are startling, so we should create an understanding environment for teenage mothers, as well as begin to educate ourselves on the topic.
On social media, teenage pregnancy is being glamorized. Personally, I am enthralled with teenage mom family channels, like Yasmyn Switzer and CamandFam. YouTubers like them help build a community and provide resource options for young moms.
However, their success offsets the real struggles a lot of mothers have, along with such limited resources. Most teenage mothers come from low economic statuses, which hinders their ability to get mental health help if they experience PPD.
PPD can affect all women. Therefore, people should not degrade young women for their choice to be a mom (or their choice not to be a mom for that matter). We should all be more educated on postpartum depression so we can make decisions that will support us — whether we are pregnant now or in the future.