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Respond Quickly to Post-partum Depression August 20, 2010

FOR MORE INFORMATION, contact Rebecca Sylvester at 706/828-2394.

Respond Quickly to Post-partum Depression

(AUGUSTA, GA. August 20, 2010) – The birth of a baby can trigger powerful emotions, from excitement and joy to fear and anxiety, but it can also result in something you might not expect — depression.

Many women may experience the "baby blues” in the days after childbirth. This usually lasts up to a week or two and doesn't need treatment, explained Beth Barranco, a registered nurse and University Hospital’s WAGT Healthy U correspondent. “The symptoms of postpartum depression last longer, are more severe and can begin anytime within the first year after childbirth.”

The initial symptoms of post-partum depression include:

  • mood swings
  • feeling sad, anxious and overwhelmed
  • crying spells
  • loss of appetite
  • trouble sleeping

As symptoms worsen, mothers will experience thoughts of hurting the baby or themselves, or lose all interest in the baby, Ms. Barranco said.

“Postpartum depression needs to be treated by a doctor,” she said. “It's rare, but if post-partum depression is left untreated, it can progress into post-partum psychosis which is extremely dangerous for the mother and the baby.”

Your physician should be contacted when:

  • Your baby blues persist longer than two weeks and symptoms become more intense
  • It's hard to perform tasks at work or at home
  • You can't care for yourself or your baby or you have thoughts of harming yourself or the baby

“Many women feel embarrassed, ashamed or guilty about feeling depressed when they are supposed to be happy,” Ms. Barranco said. “They worry they will be viewed as an unfit parent.”

While post-partum depression can’t necessarily be “prevented,” Ms. Barranco said new mothers should take care of themselves by:

  • Resting as much as possible
  • Asking your spouse, family and friends for help
  • Talking with other mothers so you can learn from their experiences
  • Asking your doctor to recommend a support group

Researchers believe that women who suffer from depression before pregnancy have a higher risk of PPD. If you are pregnant and have been treated for depression, let your doctor know as there might be something they can do to lessen or decrease risk or symptoms after delivery.

For more information on post-partum depression, contact ASK-A-NURSE at 706.737.8423. For daily updates and links, visit Beth's fan page on Facebook. Beth Barranco, RN-HealthyU!

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