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‘MORE COMMON THAN YOU THINK’

- Postpartum Depression Affects One-in-Five Mothers; Health Unit Urges Families to Be Watchful of Warning Signs -

Constant crying… guilt… loneliness… anger… frustration… depression… insomnia… suicidal tendencies… or thoughts of harming your baby. These are not the normal feelings you would expect a new mom to have after giving birth.

Far from being a joyous time, many new mothers experience a form of depression after childbirth that can cause serious problems. Estimates from Best Start: Ontario’s Maternal Newborn and Early Child Development Resource Centre suggest one in five mothers will suffer from Postpartum Depression (PPD) after the birth of a baby. The extent and scope of the problem is being highlighted by the Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit during Mental Health Week, which runs May 6 to 12.

“Postpartum Depression is more common than you think, and can affect people regardless of their health, their level of income or where they live,” says Jennifer Kurpjuweit, a Family Health Nurse with the HKPR District Health Unit.

She has seen first-hand the effects of PPD with clients in the community, and knows the devastation it can have on women, their babies, partners and the entire family. “PPD represents the number one complication after childbirth for new moms,” she notes.

Researchers are unsure of the cause, but believe PPD is related to many factors such as stress, financial worries, changes in hormones, past depression, relationship problems and lack of support. According to Kurpjuweit, it is not uncommon for expectant mothers and their partners to be excited about the baby and prepare for the birth by reading baby books and watching DVDs. “Then, when the baby arrives, the happy thoughts disappear and reality sets in for them,” she says. “Often new parents can suffer from sadness, anxiety and guilt.”

Kurpjuweit encourages mothers not to feel ashamed if experiencing symptoms of PPD. “This is a very common condition, and you should not be afraid to talk about the problem and seek help for depression,” she says. “The support of partners and other family members is also vital in this regard. It is not about blaming or judging the mom, but caring and helping her through the challenging times.”

Seeking medical assistance is also important. Says Kurpjuweit: “An open and frank conversation with a health care provider can determine a course of treatment for PPD that is best for the mom, and help everyone on the road to recovery.”

For more information and resources on coping with PPD, call your local Health Unit office (toll-free at 1-866-888-4577) and speak to a Family Health Nurse.

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For media inquiries, contact:

Jennifer Kurpjuweit, Family Health Nurse, HKPR District Health Unit, (905) 885-9100 or toll-free: 1-866-888-4577.

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