Postpartum depression affects 10-15% of women any time from a month to a year after childbirth. Women with postpartum depression may feel restless, anxious, sad or depressed. They may have feelings of guilt, decreased energy and motivation, and a sense of worthlessness. They may also have sleep difficulties and undergo unexplained weight loss or gain. Researchers aren’t sure what causes postpartum depression, but think that the dramatic shifts in hormone levels during pregnancy and immediately afterward may result in chemical changes in the brain leading to the condition. Childbirth is also a major life change that can create ongoing stress and contribute to depression. The new mom’s responsibility for the baby, the household and her work duties upon returning after maternity leave may affect her risk of getting postpartum depression.
The good news is that, like diabetes or heart disease, postpartum depression is an illness that can be successfully treated with medicine and therapy. Women treated with antidepressant medicines and talk therapy usually show marked improvement. Depending on the type of medication they’re using, they may be able to continue breastfeeding.
Do you think you or someone you care about might be suffering from postpartum depression? The EAP can provide a confidential referral to the right resource.
This is an edited version of "Understanding Postpartum Depression” from the National Institute of Health.
Massachusetts General Hospital Center for Women’s Mental Health
Massachusetts General Hospital Mood & Anxiety Disorders Institute
Mental Health America
American Psychological Association
Postpartum Support International
Postpartum Education for Parents
NIMH publications are in the public domain and may be reproduced or copied without the permission from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH).
For more information or to discuss mental health concerns please contact Partners Employee Assistance Program at 1-866-724-4EAP.
In case of emergency, please call 911 or your local hospital emergency service.
This content was last modified on: 11/15/2013