What are the risks of untreated postpartum depression?

Updated: Oct 11, 2019
  • Author: Saju Joy, MD, MS; Chief Editor: Christine Isaacs, MD  more...
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Postpartum psychiatric illness consists of a highly prevalent group of disorders that affect women during their childbearing years. Although postpartum blues is typically benign and self-limited, postpartum depression and postpartum psychosis cause significant distress and dysfunction. Despite multiple contacts with medical professionals during the postpartum period, puerperal mood disorders are frequently missed, and many women go without treatment.

Untreated mood disorders place the mother at risk for recurrent disease. Furthermore, maternal depression is associated with long-term cognitive, emotional, and behavioral problems in the child. One of the most important objectives is to increase awareness across the spectrum of health-care professionals who care for women during pregnancy and the puerperium so that postpartum mood disorders may be identified early and treated appropriately. Effective pharmacologic and nonpharmacologic therapies are available.

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