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Postpartum Depression

Depression During Pregnancy Correlate with PPD?
By Karen Kleiman, MSW
Karen KleimanQ. How common is it to have PPD after having depression during pregnancy, or is there no correlation?

A. If you experience symptoms of depression during pregnancy, you are more at risk to experience postpartum depression. This doesn't mean it will happen; it just means your risk is increased. Recurrence rates for women with a major depression during pregnancy are estimated to be as high as 50% within 6 months following discontinuation of antidepressant treatment. This is why many doctors opt to treat with prophylactic antidepressants, prescribing the medication to help protect the woman, rather than "waiting and seeing". But it's a tough call and since your history is relatively depression-free, one would need to consider other risk factors (family history of depression, history of abuse, external stressors, marital relationship, for example). And one more thing: during the first month postpartum, childbearing women have a three times greater risk for depression compared to nonchildbearing women. That's a significant risk. This is why doctors worry about a woman who is depressed for any period of time during pregnancy.

Discuss the options with your doctor and come up with a plan that feels comfortable to both of you. I would include your husband in that discussion, also. The other thing to consider is connecting with a therapist if you don't already have one. This can provide substantial support during the postpartum period and may be a effective compromise in terms of protecting you from PPD. Remember that if you *do* develop symptoms of depression after the birth, they are harder to treat then, than if you were taking the meds prophylactically.

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