Postpartum Depression and the Pediatrician

Postpartum Depression and the Pediatrician

It’s not unusual for women to become depressed at some point during the first year after having a baby. Often this depression sets in sometime after the routine 4- to 6-week visit with the obstetrician. The pediatrician may be the only doctor a woman sees while she is depressed, even though the new mother is not the pediatrician’s patient.

Because depressed women often do not recognize their symptoms of depression, some experts are now recommending that pediatricians give women a simple questionnaire at well-baby visits to help identify depression, and get families the help they need. This idea is supported by a clinical trial published in the March 2004 issue of Pediatrics, using the 10-item Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS).

I like the idea, not only for women’s sakes, but also to benefit their babies and the rest of the family. Whether or not your pediatrician takes the initiative to do this, view your pediatrician as a resource. It’s quite appropriate to mention to your pediatrician your own difficulty sleeping, sadness, tearfulness, anxiety, or feelings that you can’t cope. Your pediatrician should know the best local resources to get your family the support you all deserve.

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Dr. Alan Greene

Dr. Greene is the founder of DrGreene.com (cited by the AMA as “the pioneer physician Web site”), a practicing pediatrician, father of four, & author of Raising Baby Green & Feeding Baby Green. He appears frequently in the media including such venues as the The New York Times, the TODAY Show, Good Morning America, & the Dr. Oz Show.

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