Research Paper: April 27, 2010
PSY – 113 – Human Growth & Development
Having a baby should be one of the happiest and most important events in a woman's life. However, although life with a new baby can be both thrilling and rewarding, it can also be a difficult and quite stressful task. Most women make the transition without great difficulty, yet some women experience considerable complexity that may manifest itself as a postpartum psychiatric disorder (O'Hara et al, 1995). Many physical and emotional changes can occur to a woman during the time of her pregnancy as well as following the birth of her child (Beck et al, 1998). These ...view middle of the document...
As one of the major physical, psychological, and social stresses of a woman's life, childbirth is gaining an increasing amount of recognition as a major risk factor in the growth of mental sickness (Bennett & Indman et al, 2006). Postpartum depression is defined as a mild to moderate mood disturbance occurring between birth and six months post birth, rather than the less frequent, more severe postpartum psychosis, or the more prevalent but transient blues (Bennett & Indman et al, 2006). It is clear that the postpartum period is unique in the development of mental illness. As stated by O'Hara (1995), approximately 10% to 30% of mothers report clinical levels of depression during the postpartum period.
Although the current literature divides the spectrum of postpartum mood disorders into three distinct categories, these classifications frequently blend at the margins. At the mildest end of the spectrum is the "maternity blues" or "baby blues." Because this condition arises after 40% to 85% of deliveries, practitioners and patients often view it as a "normal" phenomenon (Bennett & Indman et al, 2006). Nonetheless, patients and their families are distressed by the patients' depressed mood, irritability, anxiety, confusion, crying spells, and disturbances in sleep and appetite (Venis & McClosky et al, 2007). These symptoms peak between postpartum days 3 and 5, and typically resolve spontaneously within 24 to 72 hours (Venis & McClosky et al, 2007). According to Bennett & Indman (2006), the baby blues is common and is considered a normal part of childbirth. Up to 80% of all new mothers will experience mild baby blues, while about 10% of women will develop postpartum depression. However the mild baby blues duration is short, typically starting within the first five days of childbirth, and disappearing within a few weeks, mothers with the blues become emotionally sensitive, weepy and irritable (Venis & McClosky et al, 2007). This stage in postpartum is particularly common among many woman and typically is nothing to be concerned a great deal about. It is said that an easy way to cope with it is to ask for help and support from friends and family. It may also help to talk to other new moms who are experiencing the same feelings. Postppartum depression on the other hand, can occur anytime in the first year of the baby's life.
Women aren't the only ones affected by postpartum depression, says a study by Bennett & Indman (2006). Dads get the baby blues too. Venis & McClosky's group (2007) found that 1 in 10 new dads met the criteria for moderate to severe postpartum depression. In an interview with WebMD, McClosky said this was a "striking increase" from the usual 3-5% of men in the general population suffering from depression. McClosky's team also found that depressed moms and dads were less likely to interact with their babies by reading, telling stories or singing songs to them. However, only the dad's behavior had...