Robert Kennedy, Kelley Suttenfield

In This Article

In Conclusion

It is estimated that approximately 40% of births occurring annually in the United States are complicated by some form of postpartum mood disorder.[10] Since "baby blues" are estimated to occur after 40% to 80% of deliveries, both practitioners and patients tend to view this as a "normal" phenomenon.[23] Postpartum disorders occur on a spectrum from mild to severe. Between these 2 extremes is PPD, a major depression that is unique and can become a serious complication following childbirth. Unfortunately, many of these patients suffer from PPD for more than 6 months and, if untreated, approximately 25% are still depressed after 1 year.[21]

Awareness of the impact of these disorders is only the beginning, and attention needs to be directed toward prevention. The traditional "wait and see" attitude may be appropriate for women with postpartum blues or those who have low risk, but women with high-risk factors need to be educated and closely monitored by their physician and healthcare professionals. Prophylactic treatments such as psychotherapy, counseling, and support groups could make a significant difference in the well-being of the mother, the child, and the family.

The editors of Medscape Psychiatry have put together a collection of resources (see sidebar for Related Resources) with clinicians and consumers in mind. Included are links to organizations such as the National Women's Health Information Center, Postpartum Support International, as well as related Medscape articles.


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