Postpartum Depression And The Postpartum Period

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Introduction Postpartum depression is one of the most common complications of childbearing with an estimated prevalence of 19.2% in the first three months after delivery (1). Depressive episodes (major and mild) may be experienced by approximately half of women during the first postpartum year (1). Characterized by depressed mood, loss of pleasure or interest in daily activities, feelings of worthlessness and guilt, irritability, sleep and eating disturbances (2), its etiology is multi-faceted and complex (3;4). Postpartum depression can have serious consequences for the health of both mother and child. Indeed, a recent study of 10, 000 postpartum women found 19.3% of women with postpartum depression had considered hurting themselves (5). In the United Kingdom suicide is the leading cause of maternal death in the postpartum period (6). Even in less severe cases, postpartum depression may compromise caregiving practices (e.g., are less likely to use car seats, breastfeed, or ensure that their child receives up to date vaccinations); (7;8) and maternal-infant bonding (e.g., are less responsive to their infants, engage in less face-to-face interactive play and participate in fewer enrichment activities); (7;9;10). These factors may be partly responsible for delayed cognitive, intellectual, social, and emotional development of the child (11-15). Given the negative consequences of postpartum depression, prevention and treatment is imperative. Standard treatments for
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