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Veterans at Higher Risk: Postpartum Depression Affects 1 in 7 New Mothers

VA Women's Health Services offers many care options

The birth of a baby is a life changing event that can trigger all kinds of emotions from happiness and joy to jitters and fear. It can also lead to something you might not expect -- postpartum depression.

Postpartum depression -- a depression that occurs after having a baby -- is the most common complication of giving birth. Postpartum depression affects 1 in 7 new mothers. Left untreated, postpartum depression can have long-lasting negative results, harming the health of new mothers, their babies, and their families.

It could be the 'baby blues' or it could be postpartum depression.

Many women have the 'baby blues,' after giving birth, which are feelings of worry, sadness, and tiredness that usually last a few days. Symptoms of postpartum depression are like those of 'baby blues,' however, postpartum depression symptoms are more intense and can last for many months.

Are you at risk for postpartum depression?

Women Veterans commonly suffer from depression, anxiety, and posttraumatic stress disorder after military service. Veterans who become pregnant have an increased likelihood of having a mental health issue, which puts them at a higher risk for postpartum depression. With more women serving in the military than ever before, it is important to support women Veterans by providing information and treatment options.

Postpartum depression is not your fault.

Postpartum depression is never anyone's fault. Pregnancy, childbirth, and caring for a child can be a challenge for all parents, physically and mentally. Postpartum depression affects more than half a million American women each year. Postpartum depression can affect any woman who becomes pregnant -- women with easy pregnancies or difficult pregnancies, first-time moms and mothers with one or more children, women who are married and women who are not, and women of any age, race, ethnicity, culture, education, or income.

Only about 15 percent of women who suffer from postpartum depression receive professional care. There are many reasons that women do not seek treatment, including misdiagnosis, denial, and lack of health care access.

Know the symptoms.

Postpartum depression can begin anytime within the first year after giving birth. Signs you have postpartum depression may include extended periods (two weeks or more) of:

  • Feeling sad, down, or depressed

  • Losing interest in what you usually enjoy

  • Experiencing difficulty in thinking or decision making

  • Loss of appetite

  • Experiencing a loss of energy

  • Frequently thinking about death or suicide

If you think you may have postpartum depression, seek help.

Read More

MomMoodBooster (VA Office of Rural Health)

Kim's Story (Make the Connection)

Maternal Mental Health (Postpartum Support International)

Created May 2, 2017