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May 31, 2019

After the birth of a child, both women and men often experience a period of adjustment called "baby blues". But in some cases, this is a more significant issue known as Postpartum Depression. Postpartum depression can be debilitating for the mom as well as a developmental challenge for the infant. The good news is that this condition is absolutely treatable when identified, so the quicker the better. 


Postpartum Depression 

  • According to the CDC between 12 and 20 percent of women experience postpartum depression
  • Numbers vary with age, ethnicity, state and economic status
  • Signs and symptoms:
  • Crying more often than usual.
  • Feelings of anger.
  • Withdrawing from loved ones.
  • Feeling numb or disconnected from your baby.
  • Worrying that you will hurt the baby.
  • Feeling guilty about not being a good mom or doubting your ability to care for the baby. 

How is postpartum depression treated?

There are effective treatments for postpartum depression. A woman’s health care provider can help her choose the best treatment, which may include:

  • Counseling/Talk Therapy:This treatment involves talking one-on-one with a mental health professional (a counselor, therapist, psychologist, psychiatrist, or social worker). Two types of counseling shown to be particularly effective in treating postpartum depression are:
    • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), which helps people recognize and change their negative thoughts and behaviors; and
    • Interpersonal therapy (IPT), which helps people understand and work through problematic personal relationships.
  • Medication: Antidepressant medications act on the brain chemicals that are involved in mood regulation. Many antidepressants take a few weeks to be the most effective. While these medications are generally considered safe to use during breastfeeding, a woman should talk to her health care provider about the risks and benefits to both herself and her baby.

A mother who is depressed may have trouble responding to her baby in a loving and caring way all the time. This can lead to an ‘insecure attachment’, which can cause problems during infancy and later in childhood.

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Babies who don’t develop a secure attachment may:

  • have trouble interacting with their mother (they may not want to be with their mother, or may be upset when with them);
  • be withdrawn or become passive; or
  • develop skills later than other babies.

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Toddlers and preschoolers whose mothers are depressed may:

  • be less independent;
  • be less likely to interact with other people;
  • have more trouble accepting discipline;
  • be more aggressive and destructive; or
  • not do as well in school.

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School-age children may:

  • have behavioral problems;
  • have learning difficulties;
  • have a higher risk of attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder;
  • not do as well in school; or
  • have a higher risk of anxiety, depression and other mental health problems.

Adolescents whose mothers suffer from depression are at high risk for a number of problems including major depression, anxiety disorder, conduct disorder, substance abuse, attention deficit, and hyperactivity disorder, and learning difficulties.