Conclusion

Postpartum depression is a treatable mood disorder that often goes undetected. The symptoms of postpartum depression can have a profound impact on maternal-infant bonding as well as other family dynamics. Infants of mothers with postpartum depression are more likely to have delays with cognitive and emotional development. Post-partum depression can occur any time throughout the first year postpartum, with the highest prevalence occurring during the first three postpartum months. The etiology of postpartum depression is unknown currently but is thought to be a complex problem including biochemical, genetic, psychosocial, and situational life-stress factors. Postpartum depression appears to transcend cultural background as it affects women throughout the world; however, it appears to affect more women of low socio-economic status compared with women who are more affluent. Although there are multiple risk factors that place women at risk for postpartum depression, prenatal depression is in the foreground as placing women at the highest risk. Women with postpartum depression suffer from an overwhelming feeling of loss of control. Screening is key to treating postpartum depression as many women go undetected. Screenings should be repeated throughout the first postpartum year as postpartum depression can develop at any point.

Nutrients play key roles in maintaining a healthy CNS, including serving as structural components of brain tissue, altering neurochemical properties of membranes involved in neurotransmission, as precursors in the formation of neurotransmitters, and serving directly as neurotransmitters. A well-balanced diet comprised of adequate carbohydrate, protein and fat will help ensure a steady source of fuel to the brain. Key nutrients including omega-3 fatty acids, iron, folate, riboflavin, and vitamin B6 have been implicated in depression and/or postpartum depression, and care should be taken to ensure adequate intakes of these nutrients for women during pregnancy and the postpartum period.

Last, although breastfeeding may be beneficial to both mother and infant, care should be taken to support women in making the decision that is best for them. Women suffering from postpartum depression are at an increased risk for breastfeeding cessation and require additional support for long-term breastfeeding success.

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