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Postpartum Depression: Exploring the Signs, Symptoms and Treatment of the Baby Blues

Postpartum DepressionAccording to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the number of births per year in the United States is close to four million with at least one fourth of these births representing a mother and child touched by postpartum depression.

Postpartum depression or “the baby blues” is classified as moderate to severe depression that affects the birth mother following the delivery of a child. Symptoms can present as soon as following the delivery or take several months or even up to one year to present. Most often, symptoms settle in during the first three months of motherhood.

Although the specific causes of this medical condition remains unknown, specialists believe that hormonal changes during and following a pregnancy may be the underlying factor. Additional non-hormonal factors may also increase the risk and include:

  • Body image perception;
  • Social or work-related changes;
  • Loss of personal time;
  • Changes of routine;
  • Sleep deprivation; and
  • Anxiety regarding parental performance.

The risk of postpartum depression also increases if

  • The birth mother is under 20 years of age;
  • Exhibits substance or alcohol dependence;
  • Is experiencing an unplanned pregnancy;
  • Experiences economic or relationship issues;
  • Has been previously diagnosed with mood or anxiety disorders; or
  • Demonstrates high levels of stress associated with the pregnancy or delivery.

Medically, postpartum depression is often diagnosed when the depression symptoms have outlived the normal period of adapting to parenthood and have not improved. Warning signs should be taken into medical consideration when symptoms have lasted longer than a few months following the birth of the child. A new parent should contact her medical team if the following are not dissipating:

  • Agitation or irritability;
  • Feelings of guilt or lack of confidence;
  • Sense of feeling unconnected;
  • Basic loss of interest;
  • Loss of concentration, energy and appetite;
  • Heightened insomnia and anxiety levels; or
  • Thoughts of death or suicide.

These initial symptoms may also be complicated by the birth mother experiencing feelings and concerns regarding:

  • Failure to take care of herself and her baby;
  • Fear of being left alone with the child;
  • Negative feelings associated with the baby;
  • Possible thoughts of harming the child; or
  • Conflicting emotions on the care or loss of interest of the baby.

Although women may present with a variation of symptoms, the prognosis for postpartum depression is hopeful. Experts suggest that if the mother has failed to shake the baby blues after two weeks, symptoms should be closely monitored and the mother or her partner should:

  • Seek help for the care of the child;
  • Openly discuss all concerns and feelings;
  • Avoid life changing situations;
  • Squash the need to be perfect;
  • Find time to schedule social outings;
  • Rank rest as a high priority; and
  • Open lines of communications with other new mothers.

Often those seeking professional help will find they are offered not only cognitive behavioral therapy but medications as well. If left untreated, the condition may continue for months or years leading to a more complex major depressive episode.

If you suspect you are suffering from postpartum depression and believe your concerns were not addressed before discharge, the San Jose medical malpractice attorneys of Corsiglia, McMahon & Allard, L.L.P. would like to speak with you. Our skilled legal team fully understands how a premature discharge may compromise not only the safety of the newborn but the parent as well. Our firm relies on not only our comprehensive legal knowledge but the knowledge of top medical professionals to ensure we secure the compensation you deserve while seeking the medical treatment. Contact our team at (408) 289-1417 to schedule an initial consultation today.

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