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Depression that develops after pregnancy is commonly referred to as postpartum or postnatal depression.
Approximately 15 percent of women develop postpartum depression within the first three months of giving birth, according to the National Institutes of Health.
Depression that occurs following childbirth is more than just the “baby blues.” While it is expected that new mothers may experience episodes of crying, irritability and even mood swings after giving birth, these behaviors typically go away after a few days. Postpartum depression occurs when these “baby blues” do not go away after the first month following birth.
Postpartum depression can last from four to six months if no help or treatment is sought. Symptoms also can last up to a year or more. Without treatment, postpartum depression could turn into chronic or long-term depression.
In addition to feeling depressed or sad, symptoms of postpartum depression may include some of the following:
A woman with postpartum depression may also be unable to care for herself and her new baby, she may be afraid to be alone with her new baby, and she may even have negative thoughts about potentially harming the baby. Others with more severe postpartum depression may have thoughts of death or suicide.
It’s important to recognize the signs and symptoms of postpartum depression so that help and treatment can be sought before anything harmful happens to the mother or baby, or before postpartum depression turns into long-term, chronic depression.
Source: National Institutes of Health
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