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Post-Natal Depression as an Affective Disorder

Postpartum or post-natal depression (PPD) is a serious issue that can potentially be destructive to both infant and mother (Leahy‐Warren, McCarthy, & Corcoran, 2012). The prevalence in the community constitutes around 10-15% (Leahy‐Warren et al., 2012). Given the fragile psychological state of a new mother, there is a necessity for caregivers to provide moral support and education to them in order to prevent adverse effects of postpartum depression.

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Post-natal depression is an affective disorder with a usual onset from one week to one month after delivery (Leahy‐Warren et al., 2012). The condition is not unique to women and can also be diagnosed in men. PPD is often characterized by sudden shifts in mood, overall sadness, and a range of other symptoms. However, it is differentiated from general depression due to the dissimilarities in the time scale and the prevailing sense of helplessness (Leahy‐Warren et al., 2012).


The condition often develops after delivery in the period from one week to one month. The reasons are unclear, and the hypotheses range from deeply seated psychological traumas received at different periods prior to giving birth to a fragile emotional condition resulting from incomplete physical and hormonal restoration postpartum (Patel et al., 2012). The risk of developing postpartum depression varies from 11 to 42% across the globe and from 7 to 20% in the US (Patel et al., 2012). The balanced average prevalence rates that many researchers agree upon are 10-15% (Patel et al., 2012).

Clinical Presentation

Symptoms usually surface in three major domains such as emotional, behavioral, and cognitive. The first may include mood shifts, exhaustion, feeling worthless, irritability, and a range of other symptoms (Patel et al., 2012). In behavioral domain, a patient can exhibit a lack of interest in usual activities, food, social disconnection, motivation loss, and other (Patel et al., 2012). Cognitive symptoms include concentration issues, a fear of inflicting harm on the infant, a lack of confidence in providing adequate care for the baby, and other (Patel et al., 2012).


Post-natal depression, if unaddressed, may develop into chronic depressive disorder. In addition, upon the occurrence of PPD even if professional treatment is in order, a patient still has an increased risk of developing major depressive disorder. Psychosis is a rare but severe complication that occurs in 0,2% of cases. Patients with psychosis have a high chance of suicidal attempts (Patel et al., 2012). Depression in one of the parents could project onto another parent even if there were no signs of it. The parent with PPD also affects the child who became at risk of having emotional and behavioral issues including the deficit of attention, eating problems. Early issues include late language skills development (Leahy‐Warren et al., 2012).


Diagnosis tactics may include the scrupulous study of the patient’s family history for signs of prior depressive disorders, and observation of early signs of depression such as mood swings, emotional outbursts, frequent crying, irritability, and other symptoms in addition to those listed above. Differential diagnosis entails often-occurring postpartum blues, which at certain points is similar to PPD but has less duration and often ends after a week from the onset (Patel et al., 2012).


All things considered, PPD is a serious issue that if untreated can be detrimental to the physical and mental health of all members of the family. In accordance with the gathered information, there could be an intervention proposed. The PICOT question for the study is as follows: For patients recently discharged from the hospital following giving birth and aged 18 to 35 years old (P), does having home visits with a Nurse practitioner to assess and educate mom and baby (I), as opposed to not having home visits (C), decrease readmission rates, improve quality of life, and decrease depression (O) over a 6-week time frame (T)?

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Leahy‐Warren, P., McCarthy, G., & Corcoran, P. (2012). First‐time mothers: Social support, maternal parental self‐efficacy and postnatal depression. Journal of Clinical Nursing, 21(3‐4), 388-397.

Patel, M., Bailey, R. K., Jabeen, S., Ali, S., Barker, N. C., & Osiezagha, K. (2012). Postpartum depression: a review. Journal of Health Care for the Poor and Underserved, 23(2), 534-542.

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