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Postpartum Depression - More Than the Baby Blues

Posted Aug 24 2008 1:49pm
WENDY, HAD POSTPARTUM DEPRESSION: I stopped sleeping, I stopped eating and I felt very, very anxious.

ANNOUNCER: A few weeks after the birth of her daughter, Wendy's joy turned to fear.

WENDY, HAD POSTPARTUM DEPRESSION: The most scary was that I was having these obsessive thoughts, like it went from this over concern for her to me being afraid that I could possibly harm her

PATRICIA, WENDY'S MOTHER: She would sit on my lap and cry and I would just cradle her, like a baby. I knew about baby blues. I knew about hormonal changes, but I knew that this was something more than that.

SHARI LUSSKIN, MD, DIRECTOR OF REPRODUCTIVE PSYCHIATRY, NYU MEDICAL CENTER: The blues is a very mild mood change that occurs shortly after birth, basically requires very little treatment, if any, and gets better on its own within two weeks. What's more serious is if the woman feels like she wants to hurt herself or if she has scary thoughts about hurting the baby or fear that some harm will come to the baby, or if the mood swings are really quite dramatic. That's not the blues. Many women have been misdiagnosed with the blues when what they really had was postpartum depression.

ANNOUNCER: Postpartum depression affects anywhere from 10 to 20 percent of new moms. Extreme anxiety is just one of the possible symptoms.

SHARI LUSSKIN, MD, DIRECTOR OF REPRODUCTIVE PSYCHIATRY, NYU MEDICAL CENTER: Not eating. Not sleeping. Crying spells. Hopelessness. Helplessness. Irritability.

ANNOUNCER: The cause is still a mystery.

SHARI LUSSKIN, MD, DIRECTOR OF REPRODUCTIVE PSYCHIATRY, NYU MEDICAL CENTER: We don't know exactly what causes it. But there's some interaction between the genetic vulnerability and the hormonal shifts so that some women are particularly sensitive.

ANNOUNCER: What is known is how to treat it.

SHARI LUSSKIN, MD, DIRECTOR OF REPRODUCTIVE PSYCHIATRY, NYU MEDICAL CENTER: Postpartum depression is an extremely treatable illness, and if you treat it early, treat it aggressively, the long-term consequences for the mother, the child and the family are drastically reduced, and the long-term benefits become more and more obvious with time.

WENDY, HAD POSTPARTUM DEPRESSION: All that I wanted to do was enjoy my daughter and, you know, be a family with my husband again. Once that started to happen, it was, you know, it was like a gift.

ANNOUNCER: Thanks for joining us on today's Once Daily.

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