Postpartum Depression and how it affects children

Some women begin to feel anxious and depressed within a couple of days of parturition. Many also experience crying spells for no apparent reason, have trouble making decisions and sleeping, lose their appetite, and become angry at their new-born, other children, or spouse. These feelings, often mentioned as the baby blues, typically last a couple of days to 2 weeks. The baby blues, affecting up to 80% of mothers, are usually not severe enough to need treatment.

On the other hand, postpartum depression involves intense feelings of hysteria, hopelessness, or sadness that last for much longer, affecting the mother’s day-to-day life. Women who have postpartum depression can develop bipolar disorder symptoms 1 to three weeks after childbirth, but the onset is often anytime during the first year after childbirth. Postpartum, or postnatal, depression is estimated to affect 10% of girls in wealthier countries, and a good higher percentage in less wealthy countries.


Risk factors of postpartum depression

Some women are at a higher risk of developing postpartum depression. Women who experience bipolar disorder during pregnancy tend to be at a higher risk of depression after parturition. About 50% of women with postpartum depression experienced depression before or during pregnancy. Other mental disorders during pregnancy, like anxiety or obsessive-compulsive disorder, can increase the risk of postpartum depression. Risk factors of bipolar disorder include a scarcity of emotional support; medical complications during childbirth, like premature delivery; and mixed feelings about the pregnancy.


Causes of postpartum depression

Although the exact reason for postpartum depression isn’t known, it’s believed that hormonal changes may play a role. Researchers suspect that changes in 2 genes may play a role in increasing the danger of developing postpartum depression symptoms. The belief is supported by findings from a 2013 study. These genes are thought to be involved in the activity of the hippocampus and appear to reply to estrogen. It’s this rapid change in hormone levels that’s believed to be associated with postpartum depression.



Effects on children

It causes long-term effects and persistent impact on children. To gauge the effect, the researchers used data from the British Avon Longitudinal Study of oldsters and youngsters.

  • Evidence suggests that both persistent and severe postpartum depression increase the danger of adverse outcomes in children. There’s a documented link between postpartum depression and higher rates of depression in children during the later teen years (16 to 18 years old).

  • These findings suggest extending the universal screening for depression altogether, pregnant women to be screened beyond the pregnancy, possibly up to a year after delivery, and through baby wellness visits.

  • These studies aren’t free from limitations. One such limitation includes a high rate of attrition, which can lead to an understatement of the proportion of women who experience persistent and severe postpartum depression.

  • Summarize research findings that compared depressed mothers with non-depressed mothers: the primary spent less time watching, playing and talking with their babies; had more negative than positive expressions; showed less contingent responsiveness, less spontaneity, and lower activity levels.

  • The babies of depressed mothers showed less positive affect, lower activity levels, less vocalization, greater distancing from the design, fewer expressions of interest, and more intense protests. Other impacts of postpartum depression were also reported on the psychological development of children. In essence, greater vulnerability to anxiety, less positive affect, less positive interaction with their mothers and with strangers, increased production of glucocorticoids, which can be related to less adaptive ways of dealing with stress thanks to difficulties for caregivers to affect stressors for the baby.

  • Although these studies show clearly the danger that depression represents for the mother and the event of her baby, the information isn’t clear. There are studies that suggest that several factors may offset the consequences of depression on parental behavior. While studying a gaggle of African-American and Hispanic mothers, no significant differences were found between indicators of maternal interaction, thanks to depression. It found that only the decisive events of the mother’s life were directly related to the interaction rate of babies.

  • During a study with mothers in Europe, concluded that prime rates of postnatal depression, as measured by the size of Edinburgh, had no significant effect on the expansion of youngsters in developed countries. No significant impact of postpartum depression was reported on the interaction of mother-child factors. It was also found that maternal postpartum depression wasn’t related to social withdrawal in babies between ten and twelve months aged.

Among the factors which will account for the various findings of the influence of postpartum depression on the event and behavior of youngsters, are, on the part of mother: the support she receives from her partner, family, and friends, her ability to manage bipolar disorder symptoms or depression within the relationship with the baby, the amount, the duration and therefore the severity level of depression. On the part of the baby, factors like temperament, resilience, and time spent with the mother, among others, could also be liable for behavioral variations.


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