is a type of
that affects some women shortly after childbirth. It is not uncommon for women to experience temporary mood disorders or "blues" after giving birth. If it goes on for more than a few days, however, it is called postpartum depression.
The cause of postpartum depression is unclear. The cause may be related to sudden hormonal changes during and after delivery. Untreated thyroid conditions may also be associated with postpartum depression.
These factors increase your chance of developing postpartum depression. Tell your doctor if you have any of these risk factors:
Previous episode of
or postpartum depression
Symptoms usually occur within 6 months after childbirth, though they may begin during the pregnancy and may last from a few weeks to a few months. Symptoms may range from mild depression to severe psychosis (in very rare cases). Postpartum depression is different than "baby blues," which is a mild form of depression that occurs within a few days after childbirth and lasts up to a week.
Symptoms may include:
Loss of interest or pleasure in life
Loss of appetite
Rapid mood swings
Episodes of crying or tearfulness
Poor concentration, memory loss, difficulty making decisions
Obsessive thoughts, especially unreasonable, repetitive fears about your child’s health and welfare
Lack of energy or motivation
Unexplained weight loss or gain
More serious symptoms associated with postpartum depression that may require immediate medical attention include:
Lack of interest in your infant
Suicidal or homicidal thoughts
Hallucinations or delusions
Loss of contact with reality
The doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history, and may perform a physical exam. Your doctor may ask you to undergo blood tests, to see if some undiagnosed physical problem (such as a thyroid condition) could be causing your symptoms. You may be referred to a mental health professional.
Treatment for postpartum depression may include counseling, medication, or both.
Medications may include:
Anti-psychotic drugs (for severe cases)
Talk with your doctor about potential medication side effects, and how they might affect your child if you are breastfeeding.
for mothers with postpartum depression can help you see that others are struggling with and triumphing over postpartum depression.
Since postpartum depression is aggravated by stress, life stressors should be kept to a minimum after delivery. The following may help prevent postpartum depression:
Childbirth education classes
Realistic expectations about the postpartum experience
Help with childcare and household chores
Some women feel better when the number of visitors is limited; others feel isolated without company, and notice that they feel better when they have other people around
Support to allow yourself some enjoyable personal time (for example, going for a walk)
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care
provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a
substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER
IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the
advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to
starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a