Prognosis of Postnatal Depression

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The recovery from a postnatal depression is slightly slower than that of the depression in other times of the life cycle. More than 50% of the women with postnatal depression need one year to completely recover, and one in every 10 have some symptoms that will persist, particularly if they did not receive adequate treatment.

Recovery is more difficult and longer for women that have had previous depressive episodes or during the pregnancy and in difficult socio-economic situations.

Maternal complications

Postnatal depression has a significant impact on the woman that has it: it negatively interferes in wellbeing, in the quality of life, and in the general functioning as a mother, as a wife, and as a worker. The depressive symptoms combined with extreme tiredness and the workload of caring for the newborn child can result in an adaptive overexertion that can exacerbate the depressive symptoms and compromise maternal skills. The lack of available time for oneself, the decrease or disappearance of the ability to experience pleasure (anhedonia), lack of energy and enthusiasm puts personal relationships at risk, with the subsequent isolation and lack of social support.

Complications of bonding with the newborn child

The depressive symptoms can interfere in the establishment and maintenance of the bond between the mother and her baby. The depressed mothers can feel ambivalence, distancing or rejection, or have difficulties in order to bond sensitively and properly with himthe baby.

The alterations of the mother-baby bonding may represent a risk of developing a psychiatric illness in the child that could remain until adolescence.

Furthermore, postnatal depression, particularly if it is severe and/or has become chronic, has a negative impact on the cognitive, emotional, and behavioural development of the children. The exposure to maternal depression in the first years of life is a risk factor for neurodevelopment. This impact, however, is not irreversible. The cognitive effects can improve with adequate treatment of the PND.

Bonding with the baby can be restored

Substantiated information by:

Alba Roca
Anna Torres Giménez
Lluïsa García Esteve
Susana Andrés Perpiñá

Published: 7 May 2019
Updated: 7 May 2019

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