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Aurora magazine

Post-natal depression: what it is and how it is recognized

Pregnancy causes a series of major changes in a woman's body. These act both on the physical and on the mental sphere. After delivery, stress and hormonal changes are easy to alter mood. In most cases these result in a passing malaise that resolves in a few months. In 10-15% of cases, however, the malaise lasts and becomes the so-called post-natal depression.

Postpartum depression involves at least five of the following symptoms, which must last for at least two weeks:

  • depressed mood
  • loss of pleasure
  • lack / excess appetite
  • sudden decrease / increase in weight
  • altered sleep
  • lack of energy
  • isolation
  • sense of impotence
  • anxiety
  • decrease in libido
  • decrease in concentration
  • thoughts of death
  • agitation.

In the event that these symptoms occur, it is necessary to contact a specialist to confirm the diagnosis. In some cases, in fact, the symptoms in question may be related to other disorders of the emotional and psychological sphere. At other times, however, they are only a momentary reaction to the stress of change. A specialist will know how to identify the causes behind the individual malaise and advise how to deal with it. In any case, it is important never to underestimate the problem.

The first symptoms of postpartum depression often occur between the 3rd and 4th week after delivery. They tend to reappear cyclically up to the 6th month, sometimes up to 9th. In some cases they can persist for years, with damage to the quality of life of the whole family. A psychological consultation and - where necessary - psychiatric can avoid many unnecessary suffering to mother and child.