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Postpartum Depression

Published: 2nd May, 2022


Postpartum depression is linked to chemical, social, and psychological changes that happen when having a baby.


About Postpartum depression:

  • Postpartum depression (PPD) is a complex mix of physical, emotional, and behavioral changes that happen in some women after giving birth.
  • According to the DSM-5, a manual used to diagnose mental disorders, PPD is a form of major depression that begins within 4 weeks after delivery.
  • Most new mothers experience the “baby blues” after delivery.
  • About 1 out of every 10 of these women will develop a more severe and longer-lasting depression after delivery.
  • About 1 in 1,000 women develop a more serious condition called postpartum psychosis.
  • The chemical changes involve a rapid drop in hormones after delivery.
  • The actual link between this drop and depression is still not clear.
  • But what is known is that the levels of estrogen and progesterone, the female reproductive hormones, increased ten-fold during pregnancy.
  • Then, they drop sharply after delivery. By 3 days after a woman gives birth, the levels of these hormones drop back to what they were before pregnancy.
  • In addition to these chemical changes, the social and psychological changes of having a baby create an increased risk of depression.

Types of Postpartum Depression

There are three terms used to describe the mood changes women can have after giving birth:

  • The “baby blues” happen to as many as 70% of women in the days right after childbirth.
  • The baby blues may last only a few hours or as long as 1 to 2 weeks after delivery.
  • Usually you don’t need treatment from a health care provider for baby blues.
  • Often, joining a support group of new moms or talking with other moms helps.
  • Postpartum depression (PPD)can happen a few days or even months after childbirth. PPD can happen after the birth of any child, not just the first child.
  • You can have feelings similar to the baby blues — sadness, despair, anxiety, crankiness — but you feel them much more strongly.
  • PPD often keeps you from doing the things you need to do every day.
  • When your ability to function is affected, you need to see a health care provider, such as your OB/GYN or primary care doctor.
  • Postpartum psychosisis a very serious mental illness that can affect new mothers. This illness can happen quickly, often within the first 3 months after childbirth.
  • Women can lose touch with reality, having auditory hallucinations (hearing things that aren’t actually happening, like a person talking) and delusions (strongly believing things that are clearly irrational).
  • Visual hallucinations (seeing things that aren’t there) are less common.
  • Women who have postpartum psychosis need treatment right away and almost always need medication.
  • Sometimes women are put into the hospital because they are at risk of hurting themselves or someone else.

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