Recognizing Postpartum Depression

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Recognizing Postpartum Depression

The birth of a baby is generally considered a joyful time, but it is also a time when women are susceptible to depression. Such feelings make it extremely difficult for a new mother to take care of herself and her baby and it may put a strain on the family. Depression that occurs after the birth of a baby is called postpartum depression, otherwise known as PPD. Postpartum illness is a serious problem among women. Once thought of as a relatively minor phase within the postpartum cycle, it is now known that it can seriously impair the individual woman's ability to function under the stress of new parenthood and can take a serious toll on the family. Over the last twenty years doctors and the general public have demonstrated greater knowledge of the problem of postpartum illness through awareness and of course research, but it is not enough. This issue is a major problem in our society, and it is one that needs to be addressed by educating the public and making more women aware of ways to get help. The main reason that this has become such a problem is that there is a vast lack of awareness in our society. People need to be made aware of the problem so that it can be recognized before the depression goes too far.

There are three levels of the Postpartum Mood Disorder, or PPMD, which are Postpartum Blues, Postpartum depression, or PPD, and Postpartum Psychosis. Postpartum Blues, also referred to as the “baby blues,” is the mildest form of PPMD. It is defined by the MGH Center for Women’s Health as a “common mood disturbance” rather than a disorder. It is considered so common that MGH refers to it as a “normal experience following childbirth.” 50-80% of women who give birth experience this. Instead of feeling sad, as they do with PPD, women who have the “baby blues” often feel “mood liability, tearfulness, anxiety or irritability.” Unlike PPD, symptoms of the “baby blues” typically last up to two weeks after delivery, and they...
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