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How Common is Postpartum Depression?

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  • Written By: Tricia Ellis-Christensen
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 14 November 2016
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Postpartum depression is caused by the drop in pregnancy hormones, which begins to occur shortly after a baby is born or a woman suffers a miscarriage. All women will have this drop in hormones, and some women experience the symptoms of depression. The American Psychiatric Association currently estimates that about 10% of women experience at least mild postpartum depression when a pregnancy ends.

About 70% of all women experience the "baby blues" a few days after giving birth, which may include some crying or feelings of mild anxiety or sadness. This is distinguished from postpartum depression because the baby blues don’t make a woman feel like hurting herself or her baby. The symptoms usually dissipate within a few days, as well.

Postpartum depression tends to linger. Symptoms not typical of the baby blues include exhaustion, confusion, fears of harming the baby or one’s self, disinterest in the baby, and intensive periods of crying. Mood changes may be sudden, and the woman experiencing depression may not want to eat or may have difficultly sleeping.

These symptoms absolutely require the attention of a medical professional. About 0.2% of women at the end of a pregnancy (1 in 500) will experience postpartum psychosis. This condition is an exaggerated form of postpartum depression, with similar, more intense symptoms. Both mother and newborn are at risk in this situation. Even depression without psychotic features may end in injury to the newborn without medical intervention.

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Women are more at risk for this condition if they suffer from mood disorders like depression, anxiety, or bipolar disorder. If other members of their family have experienced this form of depression, women also are at higher risk for developing it. A woman who has had postpartum depression with a previous child has a 30-50% risk of experiencing the condition with subsequent children.

The symptoms of depression should be taken very seriously. If they do not resolve within a day or two, as the baby blues do, treatment can definitely make a difference in helping restore the mother to a healthy mental balance. Therapy can also be helpful, since many women feel that the condition means they are unfit or bad mothers. This is not the case — they are merely mothers with a medical condition that requires treatment so that they can be successful parents.

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anon247173
Post 2

This is something that women deal with and nobody cares to acknowledge even the small factors of this situation and I feel it should be recognized more because this could lead to more dangerous things and can lead to a struggle.

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