What Is Postpartum Depression?

More severe than the common and milder "baby blues," postpartum depression is marked by sadness, impatience and restlessness. Many times a mother is so affected she is unable to care for her baby, according to the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill.

It usually starts three to four days after delivery and if it continues past 10 days after delivery, medication is recommended.

According to NAMI, as many as 80 percent of women experience a brief period of depressive symptoms during or after pregnancy.

Ten percent to 15 percent of women suffer from postpartum clinical depression within three months after birth.

One woman in 1,000 will have a postpartum psychosis that might lead her to harm herself and/or her baby, according to NAMI.

It affects about 10 percent of all new mothers. It can occur from two weeks to one year after the birth.

It occurs due to changes in hormonal levels. Progesterone and estrogen fall rapidly within hours to days after childbirth. Also, the amount of endorphins, the feel-good hormones that are produced by the placenta during pregnancy, drop significantly after delivery. Even the thyroid gland can be affected by the enormous hormonal changes that are associated with pregnancy and childbirth, leaving women more at risk for depression.

Symptoms include feelings of anger, confusion, panic and hopelessness. Changes in eating and sleeping patterns may also emerge. Some women feel worthless, cannot eat or sleep, and are sad, anxious and cry a lot.

A postpartum sufferer may fear that she'll hurt her baby or that she is going crazy.

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