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Overview of Postpartum Depression

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Postpartum Depression-Teaching Project

On the Mom and Baby unit at Memorial hospital, patient J.P. was chosen for the purpose of a postpartum depression (PPD) teaching project. The project was discussed with the patient on Wednesday, March 5th and verbal consent was provided.
PPD is moderate to severe depression that may occur shortly after delivery or up to one year after. Signs and symptoms may include anxiety, extreme sadness, mood swings, increased crying, trouble sleeping, decreased concentration, and decreased appetite. Often times, these symptoms are referred to as the “baby-blues” which may last a few days or weeks and resolve on their own. On the other hand, signs and symptoms of depression are more intense, last longer, are not easily resolved, and may interfere with functions of daily living.
There is no one particular cause of PPD, however, a combination of physical, emotional, and lifestyle factors all contribute to this condition. A sudden drop in hormones after childbirth can leave the patient feeling fatigued and sluggish. Mood swings may also result from changes in the patient’s metabolism and blood volume. Emotionally, the patient may feel overwhelmed and anxious when caring for a newborn. If financial problems and lack of support from family and friends are present, then the patient’s risk of suffering from depression can increase dramatically.
The risk for PPD increases if there is a family history of depression, a weak support system, financial issues, unplanned or unwanted pregnancy, and/or an experience of stressful events within the past year. Research suggests that 10%-15% of women suffer from PPD during their first postpartum year. This condition negatively affects maternal and fetal well-bei...

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...e, “A meta-analysis (43 studies) found an average 10.4% of fathers depressed both pre- and post-natally, with the peak time for fathers’ depression being between three and six months after the birth” ("Fatherhood institute research," 2010). Often times, the father may be overlooked in regard to emotional issues. Based on these statistics, it is important to address the possibility of postpartum depression with both caregivers, regardless of gender.
Overall, PPD may be a confusing and difficult period of time for the patient. They may feel pressure to believe that taking care of a newborn baby should be one of the most joyful times in life. If the patient experiences any symptoms of PPD, they may feel ashamed and withdrawn from family and friends. From a nursing perspective, it is important to educate the patient early on and remind them that they are not alone.
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