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Postpartum Depression

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  • September 2008
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Introduction
When a woman gives birth to a child, it can be one of the most joyous and exciting moments in her life, yet it can also be difficult and stressful. There are a range of emotional, behavioral, and physical changes that occur shortly after a woman gives birth. These changes are common; however, many women who experience these emotions may have postpartum depression, with symptoms ranging from mild to severe. Many women require medical treatment. Although all causes of postpartum depression are unknown, there are many factors that can put a woman at risk. This essay provides an overview of postpartum depression, the impact it has on the individual client, the newborn, and the family, the physical and mental assessment findings, and its impact on my future nursing practice. Overview

Postpartum depression is an illness that consists of severe mood swings and feelings of inadequacy that occur within six months to a year after giving birth. These symptoms may be so severe that they may cause suicidal thoughts or an inability for a mother to care for her newborn. According to Diana Barnes (2008), “50 to 80% of mothers will experience some change in mental health within the first year after delivery…10 to 15% are at risk for postpartum depression” (para. 2). The risk for postpartum depression increases if there is a history of depression, a weak support system, an unplanned or unwanted pregnancy, or a stressful situation (marital conflict, illness, or pregnancy complication). The etiology of postpartum depression is unknown. According to Smith and Jaffe (2007), within 48 hours after delivery there is a dramatic decrease in estrogen, progesterone, cortisol, and thyroid gland hormones, along with changes in the immune system, metabolism, and blood pressure that may all trigger depression. Emotional factors include feeling less attractive, struggling with a new identity, feeling a loss of control, and anxiety about caring for the newborn. Some...