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#femtech friday: Postpartum Depression

Aggiornamento: 5 feb 2022

Today’s Femtech Friday is the start of our pregnancy series, where we will cover different aspects of pregnancy and gestation. Today’s topic is a condition that affects many new mothers, but is not talked about enough - postpartum depression. Postpartum depression consists of one or more depressive episodes happening after the birth of a baby. The symptoms are intense and last longer than “baby blues”, and may eventually interfere with your ability to care for your baby and handle other daily tasks. In most cases symptoms develop within the first few weeks after giving birth, but may begin earlier during pregnancy or later, up to a year after birth. One in 9 new mothers suffers from postpartum depression.

Postpartum depression signs and symptoms are complex, and may include depressed mood or severe mood swings, excessive crying, difficulty bonding with the baby, changes in sleeping patterns, overwhelming fatigue or loss of energy, reduced interest and pleasure in activities you used to enjoy, fear of not being a good mother, hopelessness.

There's no single cause of postpartum depression, but both physical and emotional changes may play a role. Drastic changes in hormone levels after giving birth, including thyroid hormones, oestrogen and progesterone, can cause symptoms of depression. Moreover, increased anxiety, loss of sleep and overwhelm from novel responsibilities associated with motherhood may contribute. Previous history of depression or bipolar disorder can increase the chance of developing postpartum depression.

The main preventive measures for postpartum depression include close monitoring for mood changes during the last stages of the pregnancy, including counseling or other therapies if needed. New AI technologies are also playing a new role in the detection of depressive symptoms and their use is growing amongst new mothers. Once symptoms are identified, support and effective treatment are available. These include psychological therapy, medication, and self-help. The pandemic has exacerbated the problem of postpartum depression. According to a global survey conducted by the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, pregnant women and new mothers reported high levels of depression and anxiety (31%), loneliness (53%) and post-traumatic stress (43%) during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Do you want to learn more about postpartum depression? Check out these resources:

Keep an eye on new ventures innovating in this space:

  • Haplomind, a digital platform for screening, management and treatment for perinatal depression.

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