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Publications

When postpartum depression becomes more than just the baby blues

Bookmark and Share The word rattle better described Gretchen Martus-Uray's nerves than her newborn baby's toy. While she thought she would experience the same joy with Aidan as she did with her first child Grace, Aidan ate more, cried louder and slept less than her firstborn did. After five weeks, when Martus-Uray started wishing someone would take care of Aidan for a few months, she knew she needed help. Baby blues or more?
Treatment that can help
Virtua provides support

Baby blues or more?
What Martus-Uray didn't know was that she was experiencing postpartum depression (PPD). "There are actually three levels of this condition," says Virtua Health obstetrician and gynecologist Helen Gorlitsky, MD. "The most common form, the baby blues, affects about 80% of mothers and is marked by temporary sadness and difficulty concentrating." Dr. Gorlitsky explains that at the other end of the spectrum is postpartum psychosis, where one percent of mothers has thoughts of harming themselves or their baby. In between these two levels are the 10% of mothers who exhibit symptoms of PPD, a serious condition characterized by prolonged feelings of self-doubt, sharp changes in appetite, sleep and energy, lack of concentration and little interest in the baby. Treatment that can help
As mothers and physicians become more comfortable discussing PPD, the stigma is breaking down, allowing for prevention and earlier treatment. In fact, many mothers are treated with selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) to correct the chemical imbalance in the brain that leads to depression. Although the effect of these medications on children of breastfeeding women remains unknown, experts believe the benefits greatly outweigh the risks. "When a mother feels worthless and anxious, it affects a child's physical and emotional well-being," says John Case, MD, chief of psychiatry at Virtua Health. "With the right support, women who experience PPD can enjoy motherhood." Virtua provides support
With more than 7,400 births each year, Virtua is committed to helping women overcome PPD. In fact, Virtua is one of the first hospitals in New Jersey to offer PPD screenings within one day of delivery. There's also PPD education in prenatal classes, a PPD support group called Talking, Listening & Caring (TLC) for Moms, and a postpartum adjustment information line to help mothers like Martas-Uray find the support they need. "The biggest lesson I learned was not to be ashamed of my feelings," says Martas-Uray. "With my family's help, the right medication and Virtua's support group, I no longer feel overwhelmed when Aidan cries. Just hearing his voice makes me smile." To make an appointment with a Virtua obstetrician and gynecologist or for more information on Virtua's pregnancy classes or postpartum support services, call 1-888-Virtua-3.