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"Women suffering from postpartum depression, which occurs within four weeks and up to 12 months after childbirth, endure feelings of sadness, anxiety and extreme fatigue that makes it difficult for them to function," said senior study author Christine Toledo, an assistant professor in the Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing at Florida Atlantic University.
"Women with postpartum depression who are not treated also may have negative outcomes, including difficulty bonding with and caring for their children, thoughts of harming themselves or their infant, and also are at an increased risk of substance misuse," Toledo said in a university news release.
Nearly 13% of the women were at risk of postpartum depression, the study found.
But women who were breastfeeding at the time of the study had a statistically significant lower risk of postpartum depression than those who were not.
The researchers also found a relationship between the length of breastfeeding and postpartum depression. Specifically, as the number of weeks of breastfeeding increased, the risk of depression decreased.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that between 11% and 20% of new moms experience postpartum depression. With about 4 million births a year in the United States, that's about 800,000 women affected.
Their risks go up as families grow.
Women who have experienced postpartum depression have a 50% higher risk of experiencing it with future pregnancies, according to the study. They also have a 25% increased risk of other depressive disorders for up to 11 years.
The findings were published recently in the journal Public Health Nursing.
SOURCE: Florida Atlantic University, news release, Sept. 30, 2021
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