Pregnancy and the arrival of a new baby is usually a joyous time for the new parents and their families. Months of planning, preparation for the new baby, and delivery can cause quite a bit of physical and emotional stress in the new mother. Because this is such an exciting time for new parents, new moms and their doctors focus on the immediate questions about the new baby such as feeding issues, vaccinations, developmental questions, safety, and minor infections. Pediatricians and Obstetricians often forget to ask the new moms about their emotional health. The incidence of major and minor depression varies between 6.5%-12.9% in the first year after the birth of a child. Every year there are more than 400,000 infants born to mothers who are depressed; this makes perinatal depression the most undiagnosed obstretric complication in America.
The symptoms of depression during the postpartum period ranges from “maternity blues” to postpartum depression and postpartum psychosis. Maternity blues can affect 60-80% of new mothers and occurs within a few days after delivery. Symptoms include crying, worrying, sadness, anxiety, and mood swings. These symptoms usually resolve on their own within 2 weeks and do not impair normal activities. The only treatment required is reassurance and emotional support from the family.
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