"It is devastating for a family," Staseson says. "The dad who has responsibility for the new baby, and possibly other little ones, doesn't know what has happened to the woman he has married. It's absolutely frightening because psychosis is characterized by very bizarre and often violent behaviours."
Medical professionals — nurses, midwives, family physicians, obstetricians — must closely monitor patients for clues of depression. They must ask pregnant women directly about family support, how they get along with the significant people in their lives. They must determine if there's a family history of mental illness. Postpartum depression is more likely if the pregnant woman's mother suffered from depression.
... We need to be more vigilant in our assessment and screening and we have to ask the hard questions. New moms don't want to say they aren't enjoying this baby or that they're feeling really crappy or they don't want anything to do with their husband right now."
Those feelings don't fit with society's presumption that women are nurturing and every new mom is blissfully ecstatic about her new role.
"If you aren't those things, you feel like a complete failure, and you won't admit that to your closest friend or your own mother," Staseson says. "It's really important that not only professionals know about this, but our own families need to know when our mood is changing, when our normal behaviours throughout the day are changing and when a mom is losing interest in things that she'd normally be interested and engaged in."