Women are especially vulnerable to developing depression during pregnancy and after childbirth, especially since most anxiety and depression in women occurs during this reproductive age. Women’s experiences after giving birth may range from what some refer to as the normal “baby blues” to the more serious condition of postpartum depression (PPD). And in rare circumstances, women may experience a condition called postpartum psychosis.
Mothers commonly experience what is called “the baby blues,” referring to mood swings caused by the hormonal fluctuations that occur during and immediately after childbirth. This is very common, occurring in up to 80 percent of new mothers. The onset of postpartum blues usually occurs three to five days after delivery, and it subsides as hormone levels begin to stabilize. Symptoms generally do not last for more than a few weeks.
Postpartum depression (PPD) is a major form of depression and is less common than postpartum blues. PPD includes all the symptoms of depression but occurs only following childbirth. It can begin any time after delivery and is estimated to occur in approximately 10 to 20 percent of new mothers.
Postpartum depression is treatable. For many women the most effective approach is a combination of antidepressant medication and psychotherapy (also known as “talk therapy”) with a professional counselor or therapist trained in issues surrounding childbirth.