Could it be postpartum depression?
By Michael Castleman for Live Right Live Well
If you’ve ever given birth or been around a new mom, you’re probably familiar with “baby blues” -- the few weeks after childbirth when roller-coastering hormones cause eight out of 10 new moms to burst into unexpected tears. But for 10 percent of women, these “baby blues” don’t go away. Instead, they develop into a more severe, lasting condition known as postpartum depression or PPD. Symptoms of PPD include irritability, anxiety, anger, insomnia or excessive sleeping, feelings of helplessness and hopelessness, and lack of interest in the baby, family, friends and formerly pleasurable activities. Left untreated, PPD can have a serious impact on the entire family, interfering with mother-child bonding, child development and the new mom’s relationship with the new dad. What’s more, PPD is substantially underdiagnosed, notes pediatrician Adam Aponte, M.D., of Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York.
So how do you tell the difference between normal “baby blues” and PPD? Read the following three statements to the new mom and ask her whether she feels they describe her most of the time, some of the time, not very often or never:
- I have blamed myself unnecessarily when things went wrong.
- I have felt scared or panicky for not very good reasons.
- I have felt anxious or worried for not very good reasons.
In a recent study, researchers at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center in Denver found that using these three statements, taken from the Edinburgh Postpartum Depression Scale, was just as accurate in diagnosing PPD as using the full Edinburgh questionnaire. “We chose the anxiety questions,” says study co-author Karolyn Kabir, M.D., “because other studies have shown that anxiety plays a major role in postpartum depression.”
So if you’re
concerned that someone you love may be suffering from PPD, give her the above
mini-quiz. If she replies “some of the time” or “most of the time” to at least
two statements, encourage her to talk to her doctor. If she is indeed suffering
from PPD, treatment can help her feel better, which will in turn benefit the
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