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A new study shows that although symptoms of postpartum depression in most women go away over time, for a large number of women, depression remains a long term problem. Postpartum depression usually occurs in the first four to six weeks after giving birth. The mood swings and teary moments can become more severe and persistent over time. Often they don’t go away without intervention. This study sought to identify risk factors that make some women more prone to persistent postpartum depression.
For women who received medical care, half of the patients experienced depression for more than a year after giving birth. For women not receiving medical care, for 30% their depression lasted up to three years after childbirth.
Some studies say that postpartum depression is just a continuation of depressing which existed before birth, perhaps even before pregnancy. This review found the strongest evidence that poor partner relationships, stress and a pre-existing history of depression and sexual abuse made women more likely to experience chronic PPD. Less influential are the age of the mother, income level, and minority background. Illness in the child did not appear to be a factor.
“Because postpartum depression (PPD) has significant consequences for the baby, for the depressed mother, and for the early relationship between mother and child, knowledge about prolonged changes in the mental health of mothers with PPD may not only improve our understanding of the course of PPD, but also inform prevention and intervention strategies,” wrote the research team.
Source: Harvard Review of Psychiatry, MedicalNewsToday
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