Depression After Pregnancy

By: Zinn Jeremiah

Though most people may be relatively familiar with what depression is, most people are unlikely unaware of how significant of a problem depression is. In the United States alone, statistics indicate one of every five people is depressed. When that percentage is expanded, the result is millions and millions of depressed people. In itself that's a cause for alarm, but what may be even more of a concern is that most depressed people in the US never get treatment. That equates to lots of pain, and lots of productivity lost.

During considerations of dealing with depression, it makes sense to consider whether certain segments of society are more prone to depression than others. It was long believed that women were most prone to depression, but in recent times this thinking has been reconsidered. The fact of the matter is, not only do men get depression but men are more likely to commit suicide because of depression than women are. Looking at depression as purely a gender issue then is not only inaccurate but may also lead to dire consequences in outreach efforts.

It's important then to be clear that men can and do get depressed, and that treatment for depressed men is available. It is true however that women are most likely to report feeling depressed, and that depression in women who've recently given birth may be especially significant. Depression in women after childbirth is common enough that it has its own terminology: depression following childbirth is typically known as postpartum depression, but can be referred to as perinatal depression as well.

Postpartum depression is not a particularly complicated condition: it's a case of depression in a woman who's recently given birth. The uncertainty with postpartum depression is why it occurs in the first place. Carrying a child over the course of nine months is a terrific responsibility, and that responsibility in itself can lead to stress and feelings of depression. A woman who feels a lack of support following childbirth can also understandably become depressed. It's believed as well that there may be a hormonal aspect to postpartum depression: hormonal balance in a woman rises greatly during pregnancy, and then drops back to normal within twenty-four hours of giving birth. What would be surprising is if this swing in hormone balance didn't have any effect on mood at all.

While it's certainly true that not every woman who gives birth becomes depressed afterward, it happens often enough that it's something to be aware of. The positive with respect to postpartum depression is that it usually clears without intervention; and in the event it doesn't clear without intervention, effective treatments are there to be had.

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