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General Information Postpartum Depression
Postpartum depression is moderate to severe depression in a woman after she has given birth. It may occur soon after delivery or up to a year later. Most of the time, it occurs
within the first 4 weeks after delivery.
Most of the symptoms are the same as in major depression.
In addition to depressed mood, you may have the following symptoms nearly every day:
Agitation and irritability
Difficulty concentrating or thinking
Feelings of worthlessness or guilt
Feeling withdrawn, socially isolated, or unconnected
Lack of pleasure in all or most activities
Loss of energy experienced
Negative feelings toward the baby
Thoughts of death or suicide
The treatment for depression after birth often includes medication, therapy, or a combination of both. There are several types of antidepressant medications that may be given to
breastfeeding mothers, including nortriptyline, paroxetine, and sertraline.
If you are thinking of harming yourself or your infant, seek immediate medical help. If depression is diagnosed, you may need to be followed closely for at least 6 months.
Expected Mood Changes
Women commonly have mood changes during pregnancy. They are caused by changes in hormone levels. Many mood changes are normal and even expected, since having a baby
can lead to several lifestyle changes. Support from your family and friends can help.
More than half of women may have depression for a short time after pregnancy. These are feelings of anxiety, irritation, tearfulness, and restlessness that are often called “the
postpartum blues.” This generally occurs in the first few weeks after pregnancy and goes away soon, without the need for treatment.
Postpartum depression is a more serious condition that affects between 8 - 20% of women after pregnancy, especially the first 4 weeks. It is necessary to seek medical attention
to treat postpartum depression.
You may have a higher chance of postpartum depression if you:
Are under age 20
Currently abuse alcohol, take illegal substances, or smoke (these are also serious medical health risks for the baby)
Did not plan the pregnancy or do not want the pregnancy
Had a mood or anxiety disorder prior to pregnancy, including depression with a previous pregnancy
Had something stressful happened to you during the pregnancy, including illness, death or illness of a loved one, a difficult or emergency delivery, premature delivery, or illness
or abnormality in the baby
Have a close family member who has had depression or anxiety
Have a poor relationship with your husband, boyfriend, or significant other or are unmarried
Have financial problems (low income, poor housing)
Have little support from family, friends, and a significant other
Previously attempted suicide
Received poor support from your parents in childhood