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    Postpartum Depression

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    Do Anxiety or Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder Symptoms Increase With Postpartum Depression?

    Symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder that are new rarely occur in the postpartum period (about 1%-3% of women). The obsessions are usually related to concerns about the baby's health, or irrational fears of harming the baby. Panic disorder may also occur. Both conditions often coexist with depression.

    Tips for Coping After Childbirth

    Here are some tips that can help you cope with bringing home a newborn:

    • Ask for help -- let others know how they can help you.
    • Be realistic about your expectations for yourself and baby.
    • Exercise -- within the limits of any restrictions your doctor may place on your level of activity; take a walk, and get out of the house for a break.
    • Expect some good days and some bad days.
    • Follow a sensible diet; avoid alcohol and caffeine.
    • Foster the relationship with your partner -- make time for each other.
    • Keep in touch with family and friends -- do not isolate yourself.
    • Limit visitors when you first go home.
    • Screen phone calls.
    • Sleep or rest when your baby sleeps!

    How Is Postpartum Depression Treated?

    Postpartum depression is treated differently depending on the type and severity of a woman's symptoms. Treatment options include anti-anxiety or antidepressant medications, psychotherapy, and participation in a support group for emotional support and education.

    In the case of postpartum psychosis, drugs used to treat psychosis are usually added. Hospital admission is also often necessary.

    If you are breastfeeding, don't assume that you can't take medication for depression, anxiety, or even psychosis. Talk to your doctor. Under a doctor's supervision, many women take medication while breastfeeding. This is a decision to be made between you and your doctor.

    When Should a new Mom Seek Professional Treatment?

    Untreated postpartum depression can be dangerous for new moms and their children. A new mom should seek professional help when:

    • symptoms persist beyond two weeks.
    • she is unable to function normally.
    • she can't cope with everyday situations.
    • she has thoughts of harming herself or her baby.
    • she is feeling extremely anxious, scared, and panicked most of the day.

    WebMD Medical Reference

    Reviewed by Joseph Goldberg, MD on April 09, 2016
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