What is postpartum depression?

Updated: Oct 11, 2019
  • Author: Saju Joy, MD, MS; Chief Editor: Christine Isaacs, MD  more...
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Patients and their caregivers frequently overlook postpartum depression, despite the fact that effective nonpharmacologic and pharmacologic treatments are available for this condition. [1] Untreated postpartum affective illness places the mother and infant at risk and is associated with significant long-term effects on child development and behavior. [2, 3, 4]

Therefore, appropriate screening for and prompt recognition and treatment of depression are essential for maternal and infant well-being and can improve outcomes. [5] The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has encouraged pediatric practices to create a system to better identify postpartum depression to ensure a healthier parent-child relationship. [6]

Postpartum psychiatric illness was initially conceptualized as a group of disorders specifically linked to pregnancy and childbirth and thus was considered diagnostically distinct from other types of psychiatric illness. Evidence now suggests, however, that postpartum psychiatric illness is virtually indistinguishable from psychiatric disorders that occur at other times during a woman's life. [2, 1, 3]

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