Postpartum Depression in the Age of Social Networking

Social media: a cure for postpartum depression?

Social media is something of a double-edged sword when it comes to mothers struggling through postpartum depression.

On the one hand, given the perceived social isolation experienced by new mothers in general, just having a wide social network that can literally be called upon 24 hours a day can make a huge difference to a person’s sense of belonging and overall well-being. Studies have suggested that the larger the social network of a woman suffering from postpartum depression, the less intense her symptoms will be.

There’s no denying that life changes dramatically once a baby comes in to the picture, with consistent meaningful social contact being one of the first things to be compromised. The physical and logistical challenges a new baby represents leave little time for, say, a night out at the cinema, or simply meeting a friend for coffee at Starbucks without having to plan it days in advance.

As any mother can attest, just leaving the house to run a few errands can become a major ordeal when there’s an infant to consider.

Consequently, the ability and convenience of being able to log into Facebook and immediately be connected to a wide social circle is a blessing of sorts. While it’s definitely not the all-important face-to-face contact every human being requires in order to be happy, it’s still an opportunity to communicate with a network of “friends” and a crucial degree of much-needed social interaction at a time when social contact is possibly scarcer than it’s ever been before.

Also, not to be underestimated are all the online forums and support networks comprised of other new mothers sharing similar experiences. It’s hardly a revelation that the opportunity to communicate with other people suffering as you are can be enormously cathartic.

Not to mention being able to pick up and share the various tips and tricks found on these forums devoted to helping people cope with postpartum depression.

The bottom line

Ultimately, when all is said and done, social media has proven to be an overall positive for mothers suffering these postpartum conditions. The lack of social interaction that often accompanies childbirth is a major factor leading to depression among postpartum women. Of course, as we all know, social media also has its downsides and has been shown to actually sponsor depression in an uncomfortably high number of people. Women dealing with postpartum depression are particularly vulnerable emotionally, and social media can be brutal in this regard.

So while the interaction that comes through communication on Facebook and elsewhere is enormously helpful at this time in a person’s life, it’s not without its risks. Yes, social media can be a helpful tool when doing battle with postpartum depression, but it’s just that, a tool, and not the silver bullet we might wish it to be.

Christopher Barry is a freelance health and wellness writer. In his spare time he enjoys cooking, caring for his three godchildren, and working on his pet project, Edelwyn, an online resource for tarot card enthusiasts.

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