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Ways to Prevent Postpartum Depression

Some 80 percent of new mothers experience severe mood swings, known as baby blues, and 10 percent suffer major postpartum depression (PPD) in the first year. Here are steps you can take now to safeguard your well-being after the baby is born.
woman upset What is PPD?

The last thing you want to think about during pregnancy is the possibility that after nine months of anticipation, you'll be too unhappy to enjoy your baby. Yet the truth is that 80 percent of new mothers have severe mood swings, known as baby blues, and 10 percent suffer major postpartum depression (PPD) in the first year.

Traditionally, doctors have blamed PPD on the dramatic drop in hormones that occurs after delivery. But chemistry can't explain everything; otherwise, all new mothers would plummet into depression. According to the latest research, women who suffer from PPD show clear warning signs during pregnancy; many have risk factors, such as a history of depression. "Doctors can detect the most vulnerable women early and prevent the illness before it strikes," says lead researcher Zachary Stowe, M.D., director of the Pregnancy and Postpartum Mood Disorders Program at Emory University in Atlanta.