We recognize that certain stressors and situations create a higher risk for maltreatment of a child. Postpartum depression and interpersonal violence are two such common situations.
Postpartum depression is a treatable illness, but is often unrecognized by the child’s mother and those around her. If you suspect a new mother has postpartum depression, it is important to encourage her to seek help from her own doctor or her child's pediatrician.
Most new mothers and some fathers experience some emotional ups and downs in the days after a baby is born. About 10-20% of mothers experience postpartum depression, which is more serious. Mothers with postpartum depression may have a range of signs and symptoms that include, but are not limited to, depression or sad mood. These mothers are not only at risk to injure themselves and their children, but their depression may also negatively impact their infant's cognitive and emotional development.
Signs & Symptoms
Signs and symptoms of postpartum depression may include:
- Frequent crying
- Difficulty sleeping or eating
- Feelings of hopelessness
- Feeling worthless
- Thoughts about their own death or their child's death
Additional Information & Resources
- Postpartum Support International - This is a comprehensive website dedicated to helping women with perinatal mood and anxiety disorders, including postpartum depression
- The U.S. Department of Health and Human's Services Women's Health Section: Depression During and After Pregnancy
Interpersonal violence is a pattern of coercive behavior used by a person to control an intimate partner. It may involve intimidation, physical abuse and sexual abuse. Interpersonal violence is the leading cause of injury to women of child-bearing age in the United States. Men can also be victims of interpersonal violence. In fact, it is estimated that more than 825,000 men fall victim to interpersonal violence annually in the United States. Interpersonal violence occurs in all cultures and socioeconomic groups.
While many people believe that interpersonal violence and child abuse are separate issues, they are actually closely linked, as 30-60% of abused children have a mother who has experienced interpersonal violence. Men who abuse their female partners are much more likely to also abuse their children.
In addition to being more at risk for abuse, children suffer from witnessing violence, especially in the home. Children who witness violence are more likely to experience depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). They are also at a greater risk to become involved in an abusive relationship as an adult.
Sometimes victims of interpersonal violence do not recognize that they are in an abusive relationship or may minimize what is happening to them. Many only get help after a friend or family member has supported or helped them.
If you suspect someone you know may be a victim of interpersonal violence, encourage them to get help.
For help or more information go the National Domestic Violence Hotline or call 1.800.799.SAFE (1.800.799.7233).