Five Thinking Patterns that can lead to Postpartum Depression

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Having a baby is a dramatic transition that can set off a rollercoaster of emotions most parents never thought possible. Reproductive health psychologist Sara Rosenquist, Ph.D., explains five patterns of thought that can increase new parents' chances of developing postpartum depression.

In "After The Stork" postpartum depression expert Sara Rosenquist, Ph.D., explains this often misunderstood condition.

It's important to remember that our thoughts can contribute to our mood.

After the baby shower, after the gifts and the good wishes, new parents often struggle to cope with the monumental change in their lives. Psychologist Sara Rosenquist, Ph.D., author of "After the Stork: The Couple’s Guide to Preventing and Overcoming Postpartum Depression", shares five common habits of thought that can lead stressed out new moms and dads down the path to postpartum depression.

The habits of thought tend to overlap, Rosenquist says. “They tend to work together, one influencing and promoting another, and the result is an increased vulnerability to depression.” These common thoughts are:

1. Global Thinking: Overly inclusive, black-and-white thinking that overlooks nuance and context
2. External Locus of Control: The sense that the source of distress is outside of oneself
3. Tendency to Internalize Blame: Often feeling responsible for things that are not under your control and, therefore, feeling blameworthy
4. Personalized Rejection: A tendency to feel hyper-alert to cues indicating possible rejection and to feel that being rejected must be your fault
5. Discomfort with Uncertainty: Difficulty getting comfortable with the uncertainties of everyday life; having trouble with self-soothing

If you see yourself in these descriptions, or if you’ve started to identify some of these habits of thought in yourself you should see your doctor. But also take heart, Rosenquist says. “It is possible to change automatic and unconscious habits of thought—to deliberately rehearse new ways of interpreting events in order to create positive thoughts and emotions.”

Rosenquist explains that cognitive-behavioral therapy alone is highly successful in treating mild to moderate depressions, and in combination with antidepressant medications cognitive-behavioral therapy is effective even with the most severe depressions. But when it comes to preventing relapse Rosenquist says that “the single most important thing you can do is to learn how to stop ruminating and get a good night’s sleep!”


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Earlita Chenault
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