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South Med J. 2011 Feb;104(2):128-32. doi: 10.1097/SMJ.0b013e318200c221.

Postpartum depression: an essential overview for the practitioner.

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Department of Physiology, Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences and College of Osteopathic Medicine and Surgery, Tulsa, OK 74107, USA.


Postpartum depression (PPD) is a cross-cultural form of major depressive disorder that affects some 13% of women and can have serious health consequences for both the mother and her child. Easy-to-use, reliable, self-administered screening tools are available. PPD may have a variety of etiologies, which include changing plasma levels of estrogen and progesterone, postpartum hypothyroidism, sleep deprivation, or difficult life circumstances. Standard treatments for PPD include psychotherapy and antidepressants. However, treatment of a thyroid condition or insomnia, or even regular exercise or massage may also be beneficial. PPD is underdiagnosed, therefore more screening is needed. Obstetricians and pediatricians have a unique opportunity to test women for PPD, but general practitioners may encounter patients with undiagnosed PPD, too. These physicians could positively impact the lives of depressed mothers and their children by identifying them, then treating or providing referrals for care as appropriate.

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