Learning About Postpartum Depression
is Postpartum Depression?
Causes Postpartum Depression?
is Postpartum Depression Treated?
Watch the video: Postpartum Depression - More Than the Baby Blues as seen on Healthology
What is Postpartum Depression?
Postpartum depression (PPD) is a general term used to describe a wide range of
emotional disorders a woman can experience after the birth of her child. Three
types of disorders are generally recognized: The Baby Blues, Postpartum Depression,
and Postpartum Psychosis.
Prenatal Depression (also known as Pregnancy Depression and Depression During Pregnancy)
Recent research has shown that at least 10% of pregnant women will experience
depression/anxiety. Symptoms may include crying, sleep problems, appetitie
changes, loss in enjoyment of activities, obsessive thoughts and worries.
Women with these symptoms are at risk for postpartum depression. It
is important to speak with your healthcare provider to get treatment
during pregnancy and put together a postpartum plan.
Depression During Pregnancy: Treatment Recommendations — A Joint Report from APA (American Psychiatric Association) and ACOG (American College of Obstetrics and Gynocology) released in August 2009 -
To help you in your planning use the Postpartum Pact from "What Am I
Thinking: Having a Baby After Postpartum Depression" used with permission from Karen
The Baby Blues
Approximately 60-80% of women experience the baby blues. This term refers to
a period of temporary moodiness which usually begins 1-3 days after delivery.
Symptoms may include sadness, irritability, frustration, and fatigue. These
symptoms come and go but usually disappear within a couple of days (or a maximum
of two weeks). Although the new mom feels quite miserable, the baby blues are
not considered to be true postpartum depression.
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It is estimated that 10-20% of new mothers experience postpartum depression;
however, we suspect that this number is greater since many cases go unreported.
Symptoms of postpartum depression are similar but more persistent (lasting
throughout the day and longer than two weeks) than those of the baby blues.
They usually develop a few weeks after delivery but can occur at any time during
the first year after childbirth. Symptoms may include frequent crying, sleep
disturbances, feelings of anger/irritability, suicidal thoughts, and sometimes
anxiety or panic attacks. The new mom may feel overwhelmed, inadequate, and
unable to cope. Although exhausted, she is usually unable to sleep. She may
worry obsessively about the baby's health, while feeling guilty about not bonding
emotionally to her child. Many women are ashamed of their feelings and often
do not seek help. Early recognition and proper treatment are important.
Postpartum psychosis is a severe but extremely rare (1 or 2 women in 1,000) disorder
that can develop in the postpartum period. This illness is characterized by
a loss of contact with reality for extended periods of time. Symptoms usually
occur during the first few weeks after delivery and include hallucinations,
delusions, rapid mood swings, and suicidal/infanticidal thoughts or actions.
Postpartum psychosis is a very serious emergency and requires immediate help.
If you or someone you know may be experiencing postpartum psychosis, call your
doctor or go to the nearest hospital emergency room.
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What Causes Postpartum Depression?
Researchers are still unsure of what exactly causes postpartum depression. It
is most likely caused by a number of factors that vary from individual to individual.
Some factors believed to contribute to postpartum depression are:
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- the dramatic change in hormone levels occurring during pregnancy
and postpartum (some women are more sensitive to this change than
- sleep deprivation
- psychological stresses of new motherhood
- previous postpartum or clinical depression
- a family history of depression
How is Postpartum Depression Treated?
Postpartum depression is treatable. If you believe you are suffering from postpartum
depression, first contact your physician for a complete medical evaluation including
a thyroid screening. Many medical conditions (such as a thyroid imbalance) can
mimic postpartum depression and should be ruled out before beginning treatment.
The ideal treatment plan includes:
- a complete medical examination
- psychiatric evaluation
- participation in a support group
Don't forget to also take time for yourself each day. Eat well, exercise,
and get as much rest as possible. Take small steps at first - one day
at a time. Most of all, please remember that you will get well!
Learn more about the symptoms of postpartum depression.
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