Learn about postpartum depression, who is more at risk, and solutions available for getting through it.
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Christine: A staggering 20% of mothers are affected by postpartum depression. Hi! I'm Christine and today watchmojo.com is helping to break this silence with author Dr. Ariel Dalfen. Your new book When Baby Brings the Blues talks about Postpartum Depression. Can you tell us a little bit about what Postpartum Depression is? What are some of the symptoms? Dr. Ariel Dalfen: Postpartum Depression is an illness, it affects about 15-20% of new mums. Throughout the first year but more commonly it happens within the first month to three months. Some of the major symptoms are feeling really down. Some people describe it as feeling like there is a vale over them or feeling like they are in a black hole or feeling just really, really desperate and really dismal. Women often feel like they are not able to enjoy anything in their life. They are not able to connect with their baby and they are not able to get any joy from something such as their baby that they've longed for and hoped for. Even though a new mum is usually totally exhausted and spent she just feels too agitated and too wound up and too badly to really sleep well. So sleep problems are a prominent sign and then the more serious forms of postpartum depression women may have thoughts about wanting to harm themselves or take their life or thoughts about wanting to harm their babies. Christine: What are some of the risk factors of forgetting a postpartum depression? Dr. Ariel Dalfen: Well, the major risk factors are having a depression history. So either being depressed during pregnancy or having a personal history of depression or history of postpartum depression itself. Other risks include having a strong family history of a mental illness, depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder or even postpartum depression. Other risk factors include having other kinds of medical problems such as having thyroid problems or low iron. Sometimes those things can look like postpartum depression and might mimic postpartum depression. Then there are also what we call psychological risk factors. People who have certain personality types where they are perfectionists, they've got a high need for control or worry a lot are also at risk, and then we get into the final category of risk factors what we call social risk factors. So that might include having major life changes in the world around you and your particular world at the same time that you have a baby. Christine: What are some of the treatments to help somebody who has postpartum depression? Dr. Ariel Dalfen: Whenever I'm seeing someone who has postpartum depression we go through sort of three layers of treatment, and the first things that I think are really important to emphasize are the things that someone can do on their own or do at home so that means looking at how you get better sleep. Working on your support network, looking at who is in your life, who can help me if you're in the fortunate position of having a little bit of extra money on hand? Who can I hire to make this better whether it's a night, is there someone to help clean up? Then we get into the category of professional help. Talk therapy, psychotherapy, and then there's the treatment of medication. There are a lot of medications that are very safe and very effective for treating postpartum depression.