20 percent of women will suffer from depression. Many seek treatment from primary care providers, but up to 50 percent may go unrecognized and more go untreated. Recognition and treatment of depressive disorders in pregnancy and during the postpartum period is critical for the healthy outcomes of both the mother and infant. Postpartum depression is identified as a major depressive disorder with postpartum onset. It is a major depressive episode that usually begins within the first four weeks following delivery. It can be extremely variable in both severity and duration. Symptoms include the following: fatigue, changes in appetite or sleep, dysphoric mood, loss of interest in usually pleasurable activities, psychomotor agitation or retaliation, recurrent thoughts of death/suicide, feelings of worthlessness or guilt (especially failure at motherhood), and excessive anxiety over the child’s health.
Because of depressive episodes, up to 32 percent of women may alter their future childbearing plans by resorting to either adoption, sterilization or abortion.