Postpartum depression basics: Expert answers to your 8 most-asked questions

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists answers womens' most commonly-asked questions about postpartum depression, postpartum psychosis and other related conditions.

1. What differentiates postpartum depression from the "baby blues?" There often is confusion about postpartum mood disorders, which can be classified by the following three conditions:

The baby blues are very common and affect about 70 to 85 percent of new moms. The baby blues, also known as postpartum blues, usually start within three days of giving birth and can last up to 14 days. They typically go away on their own without treatment and rarely require more than a few days of rest and support.

Postpartum depression (PPD) is more intense and must be present for more than two weeks to distinguish it from the "baby blues." About 10 percent of new mothers suffer from PPD in the first year after giving birth. It can occur after any birth, beginning any time after a woman delivers, but usually begins two to three weeks after giving birth. PPD can last for months -- up to a year and a half, or longer, if untreated. PPD often requires counseling and treatment.

Postpartum psychosis (PPP) affects only about 1 in 1,000 women and most often occurs during the first four weeks after delivery. Patients with PPP are severely impaired and may have paranoia, mood shifts, or hallucinations and delusions that frequently focus on the infant's dying or being demonic. These hallucinations often command the patient to hurt herself or others. This condition requires immediate medical attention and, usually, hospitalization.

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