Postpartum depression is a great concern in American women. Postpartum depression may be seen as unavoidable by some, however, there are measures that may be taken to lessen the effects, or better prepare new parents to cope with the depression. Understanding postpartum depression may help equip new parents to take action should they recognize its symptoms following the birth of the baby.
What is postpartum depression?
Postpartum depression is depression that strikes after the birth of a baby. Postpartum depression affects between 10 and 20% of mothers, and is more common in second-time mothers, than it is in first-time mothers. Postpartum depression is treatable and is generally thought to be due to the hormone fluctuations involved in the transition between being pregnant and not being pregnant.
What are the symptoms of postpartum depression?
The new mother may feel sad, “down,” anxious, restless and melancholy for an extended period of time. She may lose interest in things she used to enjoy and may possibly show little interest in the new baby. She may cry often or become tearful easily. She may show a loss of appetite, and unexplained weight loss or gain. The new mother may lack energy or motivation to get even simple tasks done. She may develop sleep problems, such as insomnia, an inability to fall asleep, stay asleep, or may sleep too much.
Who is affected by postpartum depression?
Postpartum depression seems to have little correlation with age, race, or economic status and may affect any woman in any situation. Post partum depression may be more likely if the woman is having relationship or marital issues, is a first-time single mother, has a poor support network, or has a history of depression and mental illness.
How long does postpartum depression last?
Post partum depression may set in shortly after birth (as quickly as within the first week or two) and may last for months. Typically, postpartum depression is less of an issue by three months postpartum, however, it may last much longer and affect different women in varying degrees.
Is postpartum depression serious?
It is important that if a woman or her partner suspects postpartum depression that she seek help from a qualified caregiver. She may require medications (many of which are safe to breastfeed while taking), counseling or both. If postpartum depression is left untreated, it may lead to further problems in the relationship of the new parents, difficulty bonding with the new baby, or may even lead to postpartum psychosis, a rare, but extremely serious form of postpartum depression.
What can be done to help a woman affected by postpartum depression?
If a woman is suspected to have post partum depression, it is important that she remember that she is not alone and the feelings she is experiencing are not her fault. Postpartum depression is a physical condition, affected greatly by the mother’s changing hormones. The woman should be encouraged to seek treatment for her condition and should be given unconditional support and encouragement in this time of need.
“Postpartum Depression and the Baby Blues — Familydoctor.org.” Health Information for the Whole Family — Familydoctor.org. Web. 26 Sept. 2010.
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