About one out of every eight women has postpartum depression after delivery. It is the most common complication among women who have just had a baby.
Postpartum depression is a serious medical condition. It is not something a woman can control. It is not a sign of being a bad mother. It poses risks for the woman and her baby. The most important things to do are:
-Recognize the signs of postpartum depression (see below)
-Reach out and get help because a range of treatments are available
Medical experts believe that changes in the woman’s hormones after delivery cause postpartum depression. Women who have ever been depressed are at greater risk for postpartum depression than other women are.
Postpartum depression is not the same as the “postpartum blues.” This condition is more common and less serious. It usually ends by the tenth day after the baby is born. For more information, see the article on the postpartum blues.
It is usually best for a team of health care professionals to work with a woman who has postpartum depression. Team members include the provider who is caring for her, a mental health professional, and the provider who is taking care of the baby, especially if the mother is breastfeeding. Together, the team and the woman decide what is best for her and her baby.