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When It's More Than the "Baby Blues" Severn MD

The birth of a baby is supposed to be a joyous and exciting time in a mother's life. But for many women, it is the exact opposite. According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, about 70-80% of women experience the "baby blues" after childbirth and about 10% of women develop postpartum depression (PPD), a serious medical condition that develops during the first months after childbirth.

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When It's More Than the "Baby Blues"

Provided By: 

Psychology for Moms

When it's more than the "Baby Blues"
By  
Email
Nov 5, 2005, 20:20

   

From the moment the plus sign appeared in the little window of your pregnancy test, you've been eagerly awaiting the birth of your new baby. After nine months of bizarre food cravings, swollen ankles and having your belly rubbed by every stranger on the street, the "big day" finally arrives.

The birth of a baby is supposed to be a joyous and exciting time in a mother's life. But for many women, it is the exact opposite. According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, about 70-80% of women experience the "baby blues" after childbirth and about 10% of women develop postpartum depression (PPD), a serious medical condition that develops during the first months after childbirth.

To help address this serious health issue, National Depression Screening Day -- the program that offers free, anonymous screenings for mental health disorders to the public -- is incorporating screening for postpartum depression into this year's event.

"Many women go through a period of feeling sad, anxious, or irritable after the birth of a baby - this is often referred to as the 'baby blues.' However, if these symptoms last longer than two weeks, it could be an indication of a far more serious postpartum mood disorder such as postpartum depression. By incorporating screening for PPD into National Depression Screening Day, we hope to educate both clinicians and the public about the differences between the baby blues and serious mood disorders," says Douglas G. Jacobs, MD, executive director of National Depression Screening Day and an associate clinical professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School.

Like many women who suffer from a postpartum mood disorder, Katherine Stone thought that the anxiety, depression and insomnia she was experiencing was something that most mothers went through. It wasn't until she started to have thoughts about harming her seven-week-old son that she realized she needed help. "I couldn't believe what was happening to me. I had never had thoughts of harming a flea, much less a human being," says Stone, whose son is now three years old. "I felt like a defective human being, and was convinced my son would never love me. Of course, I was wrong and I know that now, but at the time I was sure my life was over."

"Feeling sad after delivering a healthy baby doesn't mean that you are a failure as a mother," says Paul A. Gluck, MD, Chair of the Florida Section of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. "New moms need to know that postpartum depression is not a character flaw but is actually a chemical imbalance. PPD is a real illness that responds well to treatment," says Gluck.

Fortunately, Stone was able to take advantage of her company's employee-assistance program and called the help line. She was put in touch with a therapist and began treatme...

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