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Postpartum

What Is Postpartum Depression

The birth of babies brings utter excitement, bliss, and joy. Yet nearly 60 percent of new mothers suffer from postpartum depression (PPD). This disorder can be mild or severe, and its symptoms include anxiety, depression, irritability, confusion, and crying spells, as well as problems with sleep and appetite. When symptoms last 24 hours to 72 hours, they can be chalked off to short-term “baby blues.” More than two weeks may indicate serious PPD.

Certainly, new fathers are also susceptible to dire mood conditions stemming from sleep deprivation and stress. According to the JAMA Network, some 7 to 10 percent men suffer PPD. Some men feel just as sad and depressed as new mothers. Paternal postpartum depression more often affects young fathers with a history of depression, financial difficulties, or limited resources, and having a poor relationship with a spouse can be a root cause. In addition, a study in the journal Hormones and Behavior found a link between depression and lower levels of testosterone in new fathers.

Depression in Pregnancy

Some very drastic symptoms can show up with postpartum depression, including hopelessness, suicidal thoughts, infanticide, panic, shame, and guilt, among many other feelings that may last for weeks or even months. This severe form of PPD can interfere with a new mother's ability to bond with her new baby. In some cases, young mothers may suffer from a condition known as postpartum psychosis. This scary and disorienting state can bring on obsessive thoughts and hallucinations, not to mention paranoia and delusions. Such an extreme condition may also provoke attempts by the new mother to harm herself as well as her baby.

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