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Authors

  1. Zauderer, Cheryl PhD, CNM, NPP
  2. Davis, Wendy PhD

Abstract

Postpartum depression and or perinatal mood disorders are complex phenomena with numerous interrelated factors. Approximately 13% of women experience some degree of depression following childbirth. Mental health professionals have described postpartum depression as encompassing a variety of syndromes and as ranging from mild depression and anxiety to more severe forms of emotional disorders. Evidence is accumulating that postpartum depression/perinatal mood disorders may adversely affect the mother-child relationship, and that it may also have long-term effects on the child if the mother does not receive treatment. Postpartum depression and anxiety disorders can have devastating effects on the mother, her baby, and the entire family. Frontline management typically includes medication, therapy, and social support. However, many women feel conflicted about using psychotropic medications during pregnancy and breastfeeding and are interested in learning about alternative therapies. If a pregnant or breastfeeding mother is prescribed psychiatric medications, she may not follow the prescription and may also be afraid to tell her provider. Women may refuse medications, even after weighing the pros and cons and safety issues with health care providers. For mild to moderate depression and anxiety, nonpharmacological choices need to be available for these women to provide them with alternative options and to encourage adherence to treatment.