Help a Friend Going Through Postpartum Depression


Does a friend who has recently given birth to a child seem withdrawn? Does she seem to lack interest in her new baby or display signs that she is having issues caring for herself or her new baby?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, your friend may be experiencing postpartum depression, which can affect up to 15 percent of new moms. Interestingly, if your friend lives in a large urban area, she may be at a higher risk of postpartum depression, according to the results of a new study.

Postpartum Depression Defined

Postpartum depression, a type of depression that occurs following childbirth, is more than just the “baby blues.” While it is expected that new mothers may experience symptoms of depression including 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 after giving birth.

Postpartum depression can last between 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.

Higher Risk in Large Urban Areas

A study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ) recently found that women living in large urban areas in Canada with a population of more than 500,000 people were at higher risk of developing postpartum depression than women from other areas.

The study examined the influence of place of residence on postpartum depression. Researchers analyzed data from 6,241 women who participated in the 2006 Canadian Maternity Experiences Survey and who lived in rural areas (population of less than 1,000), semi-rural areas (under 30,000), semi-urban areas (30,000 to 499,999) and urban areas (500,000 and over).

Almost 10 percent of women living in urban areas reported experiencing postpartum depression compared to 7 percent in semirural areas, 6 percent in rural areas and 5 percent in semi-urban areas. The study also found that urban areas had higher numbers of immigrant populations, and more women in urban areas reported having lower levels of social support during and after pregnancy.

Source: Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ) and National Institutes of Health (NIH)


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