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Postpartum Depression - Help for MA Mothers and Fathers

May 27, 2010

MANCHESTER, N.H. - Baby showers, new clothes, toys and a new room for baby - the anticipation of welcoming a new bundle of joy is an exciting time for many. But after the baby comes, sometimes the reality doesn't mesh with the expectations. Sleepless nights and added stress can sometimes bring on "the blues" - or post-partum depression - according to Alison Palmer, a perinatal mental health nurse coordinator with Elliot Hospital, Manchester, N.H.

She says varying levels of postpartum depression are more common than many people realize.

"All women are at risk for postpartum depression, simply because of the biology we have with our hormones and how they relate to the neurotransmitters in our brain."

The mood disorder can range from slight depression and anxiety to thoughts of suicide or even harming the baby, Palmer warns. And she adds that postpartum depression is not limited to women - it also affects about 10 percent of new dads.

"Some of the issues women deal with in regard to the expectations of motherhood versus the reality are things that easily translate over to fathers, as well."

Palmer points out there are other factors related to postpartum depression, too, such as prior mental health issues or a difficult pregnancy or labor. Many women feel guilty about having these feelings, she says, and don't ask for help.

"A lot of times, they don't speak up right away because society frowns upon verbalizing the negative aspects of being a mom. We need to be talking about this more and normalizing it more, so that people aren't afraid to reach out for help."

If someone is having difficulty, she says many hospitals and organizations throughout the state offer help, from talk therapy and classes to medication. The hotline number to call for assistance is 1-800-944-4PPD (1-800-944-4773), and more information is available at www.postpartum.net.



Monique Coppola, Public News Service - MA