Encyclopedia > Postpartum depression

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Postpartum depression

After giving birth, about 70-80% of women experience an episode of baby blues, feelings of depression, anger, anxiety and guilt lasting for several days. In about 10% of new mothers, this develops into the more severe postpartum depression, a form of major depression requiring treatment.

While the precise causes for postpartum depressions are unknown, several factors have been suggested:

  • Profound hormonal changes after childbirth
  • Profound lifestyle changes brought about by caring for the infant
  • Feeling of inadequacy when the mother does not intuitively know how to behave or the child does not look or behave as expected

In severe cases, postpartum psychosis can develop, characterized by hallucinations and delusions. This happens in about 0.1 - 0.2% of all women after having given birth.

Postpartum depression can happen after the birth of any child, not just the first one.

Sometimes a preexisting mental illness can be brought to the forefront through a postpartum depression.

External links

  • Postpartum Depression (http://www.4woman.gov/faq/postpartum.htm), from the National Woman's Health Information Center
  • Postpartum Depression (http://kidshealth.org/parent/pregnancy_newborn/home/ppd_baby), from the Nemours Foundation

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