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Depression After Pregnancy

Depression after Pregnancy: Putting It All Together

Wednesday, March 21, 2012 - 15:51

Contributing Author: Guy Slowik FRCS

  • Depression after pregnancy refers to the negative thinking and feelings of despondency that many women experience after the birth of a child.
  • In addition to the sad, lifeless feelings that accompany any depression, women who suffer from depression after pregnancy often fear that their baby will somehow be harmed and may worry that they are "bad" mothers.
  • There are three types of depression after pregnancy: the baby blues, true postpartum depression, and postpartum psychosis.
  • Several factors, including a history of depression, put some women at higher risk for depression after pregnancy.
  • A brief period of mild sadness after childbirth is normal and affects up to 75 percent of all new mothers.
  • Professional help is needed if symptoms continue for more than a few weeks.
  • New mothers who are unable to care for themselves or their babies, or who are experiencing delusions and hallucinations, need immediate professional help.
  • Although all the causes of depression after pregnancy are not known, rapid postpartum changes in levels of the female hormones progesterone and estrogen are thought to play a major role in the disorder.
  • A clear postpartum plan, with specific ideas about how to deal with the stresses of new motherhood, can help to reduce the risk of postpartum depression.
  • Treatment for postpartum depression includes therapy, antidepressant medications, and peer support groups.
  • A supportive partner can be a lifeline for a woman suffering from depression after pregnancy. But partners have to watch out for their own needs, too.
  • A happier mother means a happier baby.

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