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Postpartum Depression Linked to Childbirth Pain

postpartum-depression-linked-childbirth-painStudies involving women in Singapore suggest that persistent childbirth pain is linked with a greater risk of postpartum depression, according to a report presented at least year’s World Congress of Anesthesiologists.

Worldwide, somewhere between 10 and 15 percent of all mothers suffer from postpartum depression, according to Live Science. The Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale, a screening tool used worldwide to measure a woman’s risk for postpartum depression, was found to be closely related to the duration of a woman’s childbirth pain, as well as to the speed in which the pain subsided following birth. In general, the study findings support the need to address pain in childbirth in order to lessen the risk of postpartum depression.

Dr. Katherine Wisner, a perinatal psychiatrist and director the Asher Center for the Study and Treatment of Depressive Disorders at Northwestern University in Chicago, emphasized the need to get women “off to a good start” after giving birth. Women are often affected by a “cascade of negative things” right after giving birth, such as:

  • Pain following a C-section
  • Pain during breast feeding
  • Pelvic pain

Women affected by these difficulties are at a much greater risk of postpartum depression.

“Pregnancy is a particularly stressful time for a woman; she experiences a number of hormonal and physical changes that can make her act and feel differently,” stated a June 2010 report from the National Institute for Health Care Management. Symptoms of maternal depression include crying, sleeping problems, fatigue, appetite disturbance, anxiety, irritability, and poor fetal attachment.

This last factor of lack of attachment puts children at increased risk for delayed or impaired cognitive, emotional, and linguistic development, as well as for long-term mental health problems of their own. Treatment for mothers suffering from postpartum depression includes psychotherapy, pharmacotherapy, or a combination of both.