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Postnatal depression (PND) is one of the most common and disabling maternal medical complications due to its symptoms in the mother, as well as for its consequences on maternal functions like feeding, nurture, and emotional bonding. One in ten mothers will have postnatal depression during the first year of life of their newborn child.
Postnatal depression explained in first person
Professionals and patients explain how you live with the disease
50% of women with postpartum depression will be completely better within a year. Although there is a percentage of women who continue to have some chronic symptoms of depression, especially if they have not received proper treatment.
Anna TorresPerinatal psychologist
It’s key, it’s key. A woman with postpartum depression shouldn’t go without treatment.
Postnatal Depression (PND) is one of the most common maternal illnesses, which can appear weeks after the birth or during the first 12 months after delivery. It is characterised by the presence of a persistent state of sadness, loss of interest and of looking forward to things, desires to cry, decrease in energy, changes in appetite and sleep pattern and feelings of blame for not being a good mother. This state is accompanied by a marked anxiety, which affect the maternal functions of self-care, breastfeeding, bonding and nurture.
Classification of the Postnatal Depression
Postnatal depression, despite having been described centuries ago, has had little interest for the scientific community until about the 1980’s. In the current classifications it is described as a major depressive episode of onset in the perinatal period (the period immediately before, during, or immediately after delivery).
In order to be classified as a depressive state of a major depressive episode it must meet some clinical criteria. such as a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest during most of the day for 15 days and be accompanied by at least five symptoms: changes in sleep pattern, feelings of blame, difficulties in concentration, ideas of death, and impairment of performance.
Differences between Postnatal Depression and postnatal dysphoria or “Baby Blues”
It should not be confused with postnatal depression with a transitory state of sadness and changes in mood that 70% of the mothers have in the days following the birth. The presence of a slightly sad mood is usual, with unexplainable crying, nervousness or irritability during the first week after the birth that is accompanied by feelings of insecurity and preoccupation for the newborn baby. It is an emotional reaction associated with significant biological changes that are produced before, during, and after the birth, and the adaptive effort for the development of maternal behaviours such as breastfeeding, bonding and care of the baby. These symptoms are usually more intense in the fourth or fifth day after the birth, and disappear spontaneously within two weeks. If these symptoms persist or get worse, it is advisable to consult and rule out the presence of a postnatal depression.
How many people are affected by Postnatal Depression?
It is estimated that one in every 10 mothers will have a depression. This figure is confirmed in different countries and cultures. The onset of postnatal depression varies, and is not always in the weeks following the birth. The period of greater risk is especially during the first weeks and up to the first three months after giving birth. Around 25% of mothers may already have started a depressive episode in the third trimester of the pregnancy, whereas around 20% develop the symptoms after the sixth week of the delivery.
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Substantiated information by:
Alba RocaPsychiatristPerinatal Mental Health Unit
Anna Torres GiménezClinical PsychologistPerinatal Mental Health Unit
Lluïsa García EstevePsychiatristPsychiatrist. President of the Intrafamily and Gender Violence Commission
Susana Andrés PerpiñáPsychologistPerinatal Mental Health Unit
Published: 7 May 2019
Updated: 7 May 2019
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