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
- According to the CDC between 12 and 20 percent of women
experience postpartum depression
- Numbers vary with age, ethnicity, state and economic
- 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;
- 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.
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- be withdrawn or become passive; or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.
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.
- have behavioral problems;
- have learning difficulties;
- have a higher risk of attention deficit and hyperactivity
- not do as well in school; or
- have a higher risk of anxiety, depression and other mental
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