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Depression After Pregnancy

Depression after Pregnancy: Glossary

Wednesday, March 21, 2012 - 15:50

Contributing Author: Guy Slowik FRCS

Here are definitions of medical terms related to depression after pregnancy.

Antepartum: Before birth.

Bipolar depression (Bipolar disorder): A mood disorder characterized by the alternation of manic and depressive states.

Cortisol: A hormone produced by the adrenal cortex. High levels of cortisol have been associated with stress.

Delusion: A false belief.

Dysthymia: A mild but long lasting form of depression. Dysthymia is often associated with early childhood trauma or abuse, and is sometimes seen in adults who are in abusive situations.

Episiotomy: A surgical cut into the opening of the vulva during childbirth. It is performed to prevent ragged tearing of tissues.

Estrogen: The general term for the female sex hormone responsible for developing and maintaining female secondary sex characteristics. It is formed in the ovary, placenta, testes, and adrenal cortex. Estrogen is a key component of women's monthly menstrual cycles.

Hallucination: The false perception of something that isn't there as a visual image or sound, usually the result of a disorder of the nervous system.

Hormones: Chemicals produced by an organ or part of the body and carried in the bloodstream to another organ or part to stimulate or retard its function. Hormones have specific effects.

Lithium carbonate: A medication used in the treatment of bipolar disorder, a mood disorder characterized by alternate episodes of mania and depression.

Major depression: A common type of depression. Major depression is a serious disorder marked by sadness, fatigue, changes in sleep patterns, difficulty thinking and concentrating, changes in appetite, feelings of dejection and hopelessness, and sometimes suicidal thoughts.

Neurotransmitter: A substance that transmits nerve impulses across a tiny gap between nerve cells. Low levels of certain neurotransmitters are associated with depression.

Obsession: A recurring, unwanted idea that cannot be eliminated. Obsessive ideas are often unreasonable and disturbing. Preoccupation with an obsessive idea can interfere with normal daily activities.

Panic attack: A sudden experience of fear, often accompanied by the physiological "fight or flight" response. The panicky feelings are not attached to any obvious source. During a panic attack, a person may begin to sweat, have an increased heart rate, feel dizzy, have diarrhea, and show other signs of fear.

Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS): The occurrence of some or all of the following during the week before menstruation: low backache, abdominal pain, nervous irritability, headache, tender breasts, and abdominal bloating.

Progesterone: A hormone produced in the ovary. It stimulates changes in the wall of the uterus in preparation for implantation of the fertilized egg.

Prolactin (luteotropic): A protein hormone that is responsible for women's production of breast milk after giving birth to a child. Prolactin is produced by the pituitary gland.

Receptor: A part of a cell that acts as a go-between linking a chemical agent and nervous tissue. Receptors act like keyholes forneurotransmitters.

Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor (SRI): An antidepressant drug that enhances the activity of the "feel good" neurotransmitter serotonin.

Synapse: A microscopic gap between nerve cells where a nervous impulse passes from one nerve cell to another, allowing communication between nerve cells.

Uterus: The female organ that contains and nourishes an infant during the mother's pregnancy.

Depression After Pregnancy