Postpartum Depression

Many women imagine that becoming a mother will be a time of total fulfillment and boundless joy. In reality, however, many women experience significant mood changes following childbirth. Between 50 and 85% of new mothers experience "the maternity blues," a brief postpartum period of tearfulness and anxiety. An additional 10 to 15% of women experience postpartum depression (PPD) which is a longer-lasting and more pervasive type of mood disorder. In either case, early treatment may be the most effective way to improve mood, parenting, and your relationship with your parenting partner.. All women are vulnerable to postpartum depression, regardless of age, marital status, education level, or socioeconomic status. However, there may be certain factors that increase a woman’s chance of suffering from postpartum depression. Based on a recent meta-analysis of studies assessing risk factors for postpartum illness (Beck, 2001), the following factors are considered to be reliable predictors of postpartum sadness or depression:

·        Prenatal depression

·        Prenatal anxiety

·        History of previous depression

·        Maternity blues

·        Recent stressful life events

·        Inadequate social supports

·        Poor marital relationship

·        Low self-esteem

·        Childcare stress

·        Difficult infant temperament

·        Single marital status

·        Unplanned or unwanted pregnancy

·        Lower socioeconomic status

A recent article reviewed 15 studies of non-pharmacologic interventions for the prevention on postpartum depression and concluded that the only effective intervention against PPD may be intensive postpartum support provided by a health professional (Dennis, 2005). Postpartum depression can have a devastating impact on the experience of being a new mother. It can also impact your child and/or your relationship with your co-parent. Thus early intervention, such as supportive psychotherapy, can be a major benefit during this vulnerable time period. *Contact Dr. Levenson* if you think you may be experiencing postpartum sadness or depression.

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