One thing that really bothers me is when people use the term “postpartum depression” to refer to the deep disappointment some people experience after a big event is over. As an example, this bit from this week:

“After two intense years of campaign ups and downs for both major U.S. political parties, the nation has finally settled on a president. Although initially, Obama’s victory brings celebrations for supporters, experts say the let-down that voters of each side may feel after the campaign is akin to postpartum depression.”

My computer tracks down most mentions of postpartum depression on the web for me (thank you Google!) and I can’t tell you how often I see someone write that they’ve got “PPD” after they finish a big project. I know what they’re trying to say, but at the same time it feels to me as if it diminishes the seriousness of what we go through. If they really had PPD, boy-oh-boy would they know it, and they wouldn’t rattle it off so offhandedly as if it were a case of the common cold. Perhaps what they’re suffering is loss. But postpartum depression?

ATTENTION, all media people: Here’s a newsflash. PPD is not simply a feeling of “let-down” or “being “a little off.” It’s a very serious and devastating illness. It can negatively impact sleeping and eating. It can cause nonstop crying, sadness, isolation and withdrawal from everything you used to enjoy. Women with PPD have feelings of guilt, shame and hopelessness. They have problems bonding with their babies. They can lose the ability to concentrate or focus. Some consider suicide.

Simply being bummed out or feeling aimless after an election or a school paper or major business project or competition is over is not exactly the same thing as postpartum depression. There are women who don’t seek treatment because they don’t recognize how serious this illness is. Let’s not minimize it even further and normalize it to the point that even more choose to continue to needlessly suffer rather than reach out for help.

(crossposted at Postpartum Progress)