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Postpartum Depression

What if your symptoms are really out of control? This is termed "postpartum psychosis". This is a rare complication of PPD that affects one to two out of every 1000 postpartum women. It may actually be related to bipolar affective disorder (also called "manic depressive illness"); some women with this complication may also be schizophrenic or have an underlying, undiagnosed medical disorder. These symptoms generally begin within two weeks of delivery. Women affected may appear manic, severely depressed or schizophrenic. In addition to all the symptoms listed for PPD, women may have delusions or hallucinations about the baby, including beliefs or fears about the baby being dead. Many women with the manic form of postpartum psychosis may actually feel elated and require little or not sleep; they have tremendous energy and may have delusions about having special powers or a super baby. Women with postpartum psychosis must be promptly referred for psychiatric evaluation and admission.

Risk Factors:

There is no consistent association between PPD and age, number of children, socioeconomic status or any biologic factors. Risk for PPD is increased by:

  • personal or family history of depression
  • unmarried status at the time of birth
  • lack of social support
  • occurrence of negative life events during the pregnancy and/or delivery
  • personal history of premenstrual syndrome (PMS).
Debunking the Myths, Misconceptions, and Misinformation About PPD:
  1. PPD is a real medical disorder; it doesn't mean the woman wasn't cut out to be a mom or that she didn't want her baby.
  2. PPD is treatable; moms who are treated for PPD are just as likely to become "good mothers" as those who were not affected by PPD.
  3. If you are given an anti-depressant-or referred for counseling-it doesn't mean you are crazy. On the contrary, it means you are being responsible and taking care of a potentially serious medical illness.
  4. If you have PPD once you may have it again (50% chance), but not necessarily. If you have it again, it may vary in severity.
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