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Dr. Shoshana Bennett: Surviving Postpartum Depression

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I’m a survivor of two life-threatening postpartum depressions. At the time of my illnesses, there was no help for me. The great news is that, if you’re suffering from depression in pregnancy or postpartum or know someone who is, there’s help now. For the last 20 years my mission has been to educate medical and mental health professionals, and work directly with women and their families around the world to make sure they don’t suffer the way my family and I did. I’ve worked with over 15,000 women, and I’ve never met one who did not fully recover when given proper help.

Women are most vulnerable to mood disorders during pregnancy and the postpartum period. If depression or anxiety is going to surface, it typically happens at this time. Postpartum depression (ppd) is one of six postpartum mood disorders and is the most common, affecting about 15 percent of mothers around the world. The primary cause for ppd is thought to be the huge hormonal drop after the baby is delivered. This hormone shift then affects the neurotransmitters (brain chemicals). There are also psychosocial factors such as moving, illness, poor partner support, financial hardship, and social isolation that will negatively affect the woman’s emotional state. If the normal Baby Blues don’t go away within two weeks, it is considered then to be ppd. The condition often worsens if the mother doesn’t receive help. Although the onset of ppd is usually gradual, it can be rapid and may occur immediately after delivery. Ppd can begin any time during the first year postpartum. It is extremely important to treat ppd, because if it goes untreated, the symptoms may become chronic. Twenty-five percent of mothers untreated for ppd remain depressed after one year. Ppd can occur after the birth of any child, not just the first. Once a woman has had one occurrence, she is high risk for another after a subsequent birth. Common symptoms are excessive worry, anger, feelings of guilt, sadness, hopelessness, sleep problems, uneasiness around the baby, poor concentration, loss of pleasure, decreased sex drive, and changes in appetite.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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