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During pregnancy, or shortly after the birth of a child, some parents experience postpartum depression (PPD). Characteristics of PDD include changes in mood, loss of interest in activities, and other physical and emotional symptoms. When experiencing postpartum depression, these symptoms are debilitating, making it difficult to perform everyday tasks. 

It is important to note that many women experience “baby blues” in the days following childbirth. This involves brief crying spells, irritability, nervousness, poor sleep, and emotional reactivity. Baby blues does not rise to the level of PPD and usually resolves in about one week, without treatment. 

PPD affects about 1 in 10 women during pregnancy, or in the weeks following delivery. Women who are diagnosed with PPD once are more likely to experience it during future pregnancies. Signs and symptoms of PPD include depressed mood, loss of interest in activities, irritability, feelings of guilt or worthlessness, anxiety, difficulties coping with daily activities, fatigue, poor concentration, insomnia, significant changes in appetite, thoughts of harming the newborn, and thoughts of suicide. Keep in mind that everyone’s experience with PDD is different and unique to each person. Some individuals develop most symptoms, and others develop fewer symptoms. The diagnosis of postpartum depression should only be made by a qualified professional. 

Risk factors are defined as something that increases risk or susceptibility. Risk factors of postpartum depression include a history of depression, depression or anxiety during pregnancy, young marital age, low income, marital conflict, and low partner support, lack of social support, stressful life events during pregnancy, and immigrant status. However, someone without these risk factors can still experience PPD. 

A parent’s PPD can lead to cognitive, social, and behavioral problems in their child. However, when PPD is treated, these issues tend to improve. Treatment available for PDD includes psychotherapy and medication. Talk therapy is usually recommended for patients with mild to moderate severity of PDD. Parents learn to reduce stressors and improve coping skills. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and interpersonal therapy are the most common PPD therapies. Medication may be recommended for patients with severe PPD. When taken regularly, antidepressant medication is effective in treating PPD. It can be used in combination with talk therapy. Social support from partners, family members, and community members represent an important factor that impacts postpartum depression recovery and health.

Gildner, T. E., Uwizeye, G., Milner, R. L., Alston, G. C., & Thayer, Z. M. (2021). Associations between postpartum depression and assistance with household tasks and childcare during the COVID-19 pandemic: Evidence from american mothers. BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth, 21(1), 828-828.
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