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About Postpartum Depression

We're taught that having a baby is the happiest time in a woman's life; however, it is one of the most stressful and anxiety producing life transitions a woman will ever experience.

In fact, as many as four out of five women who give birth will be aware of some change in their mental health following the birth of their child. Are you one of them?

What is postpartum depression?
A biochemical illness caused by changes in brain chemistry that can occur anytime within the first year after childbirth. Between 10 - 20% of women who give birth will have a postpartum depression. Symptoms include sleeping and eating disturbances, disorientation and confusion, inability to cope, overwhelmed with sadness and emotion and feelings of inadequacy.

Some women with postpartum depression feel emotionally detached from their infant.

What is postpartum psychosis?
A life-threatening biochemically induced illness that constitutes a medical emergency and necessitates immediate treatment. Symptoms include inability to sleep, extreme anxiety, and hallucinations and delusions, very often accompanied by thoughts of suicide and/or infanticide. Unless treated, postpartum psychosis can jeopardize the safety of both mother and infant.

Am I at risk for a postpartum mood disorder?
A personal or family history of depression, bipolar disorder or schizophrenia, depression and/or anxiety during pregnancy, premenstrual syndrome, personal or family history of thyroid illness all constitute risk factors.

Stressful life events and lack of a social support system contribute to a woman's vulnerability to depression.

What do I do?
Plan for free time, locate the stressors in your life and eliminate them, get plenty of rest.

Ask for help, don't deny your feelings or feel guilty for having them.

Develop a support system and educate yourself about postpartum mood disorders.

Tell your healthcare provider if you think you are at risk or experiencing symptoms of postpartum depression or psychosis.

You are not alone. PPD is treatable and there is help.

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The Center for Postpartum Health
The Center for Postpartum Health