Today on the Bipolar Burble blog Melanie Williams brings us a piece on something that isn’t talked about nearly enough: postpartum depression and its relationship to bipolar disorder.

Jon Avnet, the creator of the Web series “Susanna,” told CBS News the reason he created the show was because of how prevalent postpartum depression is, yet nobody talks about it.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 10 to 15 % of new mothers suffer from postpartum depression within a few weeks of their child’s birth. The condition, however, can affect women up to a year after giving birth. It is also not exclusive to females. The Psychiatric Times cited several clinical studies and said up to 25% of new fathers also suffer from postpartum depression.

The tragic death of Miriam Carey, the 34-year-old new mother who was shot and killed by Washington, D.C., police in early October, brought much needed attention to a condition that affects so many people. Seek immediate medical attention for any noticeable or even subtle signs of postpartum depression in yourself or a loved one.

Postpartum Depression and Bipolar Disorder

Postpartum Depression and BipolarThis year, researchers at Northwestern Medicine conducted the largest ever study on postpartum depression. The study screened 10,000 women who had recently given birth. Fourteen per cent of the participants tested positive, and 20% of those women had suicidal thoughts. Dr. Katherine Wisner, the lead researcher in the study, told Science Daily that a vast majority of postpartum patients never seek help, which can lead to tragic results.

Bipolar disorder was diagnosed in 22% of the positive postpartum women, and during the study, a vast majority of these women found out for the first time that they suffered from the disorder. Researchers concluded that women who had previously been treated for a psychological disorder are at higher risk of suffering from postpartum depression than those who have not. A 2006 Canadian Maternity Experiences Survey also found that women who live in large urban areas are at much higher risk for postpartum depression than those who live in rural or small communities.

Warning Signs of Postpartum Depression

Ideally, the moment you take that home pregnancy test and get a positive result is when your prenatal care should begin. Research your postnatal care while you are pregnant to make a smooth and prepared transition. The Mayo Clinic refers to the first two weeks of new motherhood and the potential depression that comes with it the “baby blues,” which are normal. Mood swings, anxiety, crying and trouble falling asleep beyond that are symptoms that should prompt an immediate trip to your doctor. Symptoms of the more severe postpartum depression include loss of appetite, loss of libido, difficulty bonding with the baby, suicidal thoughts, and withdrawal from friends and family. If you are suffering from paranoia, hallucinations and/or thoughts of harming yourself or the baby, you may be experiencing postpartum psychosis, which is considerably more common in people with bipolar disorder. Postpartum psychosis can be fatal for the baby and mother and requires emergency help.

Melanie Williams Melanie is a stay-at-home mom who runs a marketing consulting company.