Postpartum blues pose serious threat

Postpartum blues pose serious threat

By Rachel O’Rourke

Alberta Mayor Melissa Blake in the US has declared January to be Postpartum Depression (PPD - also known as Postnatal Depression) Awareness month, raising new concerns that the post-birth mental illness is a serious threat to women's health.

Blake will work alongside the American Postpartum Depression Awareness Project, which strives to help women in the province understand and identify the causes of PPD - a depressive disease in mothers following the birth of a child - whilst providing help to those suffering from the mental ailment.

The news comes amidst new research by Postpartum Support International which showed that Latin American women are 37% more likely to suffer from the disorder - compared to 25% for the general American population.

The figure is put down to cultural differences and general attitude towards mental health as well as a lack of proper healthcare.

The San Ysidro Health Centre’s physician Dr. James Cevallos who helped conduct the research, told news site 5 KSDK: "It's something that might be shameful to the culture.

“We know that mental disease in the Latino culture is something that's looked at as something that you should be able to handle your own.

"It can be recommended that in a [doctors] visit, physicians ask their patients about symptoms of PPD," Cevallos added.

The condition is globally widespread with approximately 10-15% of mums in Western countries experiencing this more severe form of depression, with the U.S Department of Health and Human Services pinning the U.S population figure at 13%.

But, in the last ten years, health organisations have made significant advances in diagnosing PPD; whereas it was once a condition not discussed or recognised among health-care providers at all.

According to Psychiatry Online, experts agree that PPD is now well-known amongst health professionals and is most often caused by a shift in hormones in a woman’s body after childbirth, usually within the first four weeks after delivery.

Symptoms of PPD can last for months, however, and recovery is often dependent on treatment, such as therapy of medication.

What are the signs of PPD? The following list, especially if experienced for a prolonged period, could signal that you have more than just the 'baby blues':

- Restlessness or irritability

- Prolonged feelings of sadness

- Fear of hurting your baby or yourself; overly worried about the baby or not being concerned about the baby at all

- Feeling of worthlessness

- Trouble sleeping

- Headaches, anxiety attacks, numbness and chest pains

- Little interest in the things you enjoy and a loss of libido

Postpartum Support International is a global organisation offering support to women with PPD all over the world and aiming to increase awareness of the condition. Find out more information here:

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