You are not alone. Help your baby by helping yourself.
Depression and anxiety, either during or after pregnancy can have an immense impact on parent and baby. Perinatal and postpartum depression and anxiety affect at least a half-million women in the United States every year. Symptoms of postpartum depression often begin in the first days or weeks after delivery, and can include mood swings, anxiety or irritability, and tearfulness interspersed with periods of apparent well being. Often, mothers may postpone treatment because of low energy due to illness or concern over what others may think. Similarly, they may feel guilty about being depressed when it is socially expected that they feel happy. Family members and health care providers may incorrectly identify symptoms as normal reactions to the stresses of childcare.
Prompt evaluation and treatment are important because research indicates parental mental health affects long term child development. Depressed mothers, for example, often have impaired interactions with their infants which can lead to developmental delays, insecure attachments, and difficulties in the realm of emotion, cognition, and behavior. Treatment assists mothers in making a healthy transition to motherhood and, by improving their sense of well being, allows them to both enjoy their new role and enhance their ability to care for their family. Fathers too are at risk for depression when their wife has experienced postpartum depression. Successful treatment of perinatal or postpartum depression therefore benefits not only the suffering individual but the family as a whole.
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