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Postpartum Depression

Overview :

The onset of postpartum depression tends to be gradual and may persist for many months, or develop into a second bout following a subsequent pregnancy. Postpartum depression affects approximately 15% of all childbearing women. Mild to moderate cases are sometimes unrecognized by women themselves. Many women feel ashamed if they are not coping and so may conceal their difficulties. This is a serious problem that disrupts women's lives and can have effects on the baby, other children, her partner, and other relationships. Levels of depression for fathers also increase significantly.

Postpartum depression is often divided into two types: early onset and late onset. An early onset most often seems like the blues, a mild brief experience during the first days or weeks after birth. During the first week after the birth up to 80% of mothers will experience the baby blues. This is usually a time of extra sensitivity and symptoms include tearfulness, irritability, anxiety, and mood changes, which tend to peak between three to five days after childbirth. The symptoms normally disappear within two weeks without requiring specific treatment apart from understanding, support, skill, and practice. In short, some depression, tiredness, and anxiety may fall within the normal range of reactions to giving birth.

Late onset appears several weeks after the birth. This involves a slowly growing feeling of sadness, depression, lack of energy, chronic tiredness, inability to sleep, change in appetite, significant weight loss or gain, and difficulty caring for the baby.

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