The birth of a baby is a joyous occasion. However, some new mothers face struggles with their mental health. Tayyaba Ali, MD, of St. Mary’s Psychiatry, discusses what you need to know about postpartum depression.
Q. When does postpartum depression occur?
A. The postpartum period is usually defined as the first 12 months after birth. However, onset of postpartum depression can occur prior to or after delivery.
Q. What are the risk factors?
A. Many risk factors have been identified for postpartum depression. The most important risk factor is past history of depression. Other factors include stressful events and poor social and financial support during pregnancy or after delivery, young age, unintended pregnancy, family history of postpartum depression, intimate partner violence, and lifetime history of physical and/or sexual abuse.
Q. What are the symptoms of postpartum depression?
A. Depressive symptoms such as dysphoria, insomnia, fatigue and impaired concentration can appear in both postpartum depression and postpartum blues. However, “Baby Blues” differ from postpartum depression in symptom severity and duration. The symptoms of postpartum blues are mild and self-limited; symptoms typically develop within two to three days, peak over the next few days and resolve within two weeks of onset.
By contrast, the diagnosis of major depression requires a minimum of five symptoms that must be present for at least two weeks. Symptoms that persist beyond two weeks are best viewed as postpartum depression rather than postpartum blues.
Q. Where can one get help for this condition?
A. If one feels depressed and anxious during their perinatal period, they should talk to their primary care provider or OBGYN. You can also get a referral and see a psychiatrist.
Psychotherapy can be helpful for mild to moderate postpartum depression. But the combination of antidepressant medications and psychotherapy is more beneficial and mostly needed for moderate to severe postpartum depression.
To learn more, visit stmarysregional.com/postpartumdepression
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