Saturday, May 24, 2008

Postpartum Depression – Symptoms, Causes and Treatment

Postpartum Depression – Symptoms, Causes and Treatment
Author: peterhutch

Postpartum Depression that occurs during pregnancy or within a year after delivery is called perinatal depression. The exact number of women with depression during this time is unknown. But researchers believe that depression is one of the most common complications during and after pregnancy. Often, the depression is not recognized or treated, because some normal pregnancy changes cause similar symptoms and are happening at the same time.
Tiredness, problems sleeping, stronger emotional reactions, and changes in body weight may occur during pregnancy and after pregnancy. But these symptoms may also be signs of depression.

Many women experience major mood shifts after childbirth, ranging from brief, mild baby blues to longer-lasting, deeper clinical depression, which is known as postpartum depression. Feelings of sadness and depression are more common after childbirth than many people may realize. It's important for new mothers — and those who love them — to understand the symptoms of postpartum depression and to reach out to family, friends, and medical professionals for help.


Physical symptoms such as frequent headaches, chest pain, rapid heart beat, numbness, shakiness or dizziness, and mild shortness of breath suggest anxiety. Postpartum anxiety disorder is a separate disorder from postpartum depression, but the two often occur together.

A woman who has postpartum psychosis may feel cut off from her baby. She may see and hear things that aren't there. Any woman who has postpartum depression can have fleeting thoughts of suicide or of harming her baby. But a woman with postpartum psychosis may feel like she has to act on these thoughts.


Postpartum depression is caused by changes in hormones and can run in families. Women with severe premenstrual syndrome are more likely to suffer from postpartum depression.

There may be a number of reasons why a woman gets depressed. Hormone changes or a stressful life event, such as a death in the family, can cause chemical changes in the brain that lead to depression. Depression is also an illness that runs in some families. Other times, it’s not clear what causes depression.

Experts agree there are no single cause but rather a combination of hormonal, biochemical, environmental, psychological, and genetic factors. Genetics may play the largest role in postpartum depression, as the single greatest risk factor for PPD is a personal history of depression.

When you're sleep deprived and overwhelmed, you may have trouble handling even minor problems. You may be anxious about your ability to care for a newborn. You may feel less attractive or struggle with your sense of identity. You may feel that you've lost control over your life. Any of these factors can contribute to depression.


Postpartum depression can be treated in several ways. Support groups may help. Some women go to therapy or counseling with a mental health professional. This professional may talk with the woman about the risks and benefits of antidepressant medications.

Always consult a psychiatrist or other mental health professional when depressive symptoms continue or worsen; when the new mother feels or expresses a wish to harm herself, or feels or expresses a fear that she will harm the child; or when she becomes suspicious or begins to act in an unusual, bizarre manner.

If bad moods, stress, and conflicts plague the pregnancy, try to head off the probable later depression by getting help before the baby is born. Be assertive; if a doctor does not take the symptoms seriously, get a second opinion.

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