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Harvard Medical School



Serious Complications at Delivery Increase the Risk of Postpartum PTSD

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is common among women of child-bearing age.  While we are increasingly attentive to screening for depressive symptoms after delivery, we may not always ask about PTSD symptoms.  Importantly, PTSD symptoms that go undetected and unaddressed may complicate the treatment of postpartum depression.  A recent study has looked at the prevalence of […]

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Antidepressant Use Associated with Longer Duration of Breastfeeding

Data was presented at the 18th Perinatal Society of Australia and New Zealand (PSANZ) Annual Conference in Perth regarding the use of antidepressants among breastfeeding women. Analyzing the data from the Danish National Birth Cohort in Denmark, researchers examined outcomes in 368 women who were taking antidepressants prior to becoming pregnant.  Two thirds of the women (67%) […]

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Sleep Interventions During Pregnancy Reduce the Risk of Postpartum Depression

It should be no surprise that many women complain of disrupted sleep during pregnancy.  According to a recent study, approximately 28%-38% of women meet criteria for sleep deficiency during early pregnancy. (Sleep deficiency is defined as short sleep duration, insufficient sleep, or insomnia).As pregnancy progresses, sleep quality continues to deteriorate; during the third trimester, over half of all women report poor […]

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Positive Parenting Can Reduce Risk for Postpartum Depression

A recent study investigated the effectiveness of two pediatric primary care interventions for reducing the risk for postpartum depressive symptoms. The researchers tested two interventions designed to promote parental responsiveness: Video Interaction Project (VIP) is a relationship-based intervention, using video-  recordings of mother–child dyads which are used to reinforce positive interactions Building Blocks (BB) communicates […]

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Support Women and Families with PPD and Raise Public Awareness: Climb Out of the Darkness

This is from Katherine Stone at Postpartum Progress.  Katherine Stone has long been an advocate for women with perinatal mood and anxiety disorders.  In addition to her website which provides information and support, she has helped to create and sponsor events which raise public awareness of postpartum depression and related disorders.  The largest event for […]

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A New Questionnaire for Diagnosing Perinatal Anxiety Disorders

While we have focused a great deal on the emergence of mood disorders during pregnancy and the postpartum period, there is a growing body of literature that indicates that anxiety symptoms are prevalent during this period of time and may also affect pregnancy outcomes.  Certain items on the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS) may help […]

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Lower Vitamin D Levels Associated with Perinatal Depression

The active form of vitamin D is produced as a byproduct of natural sun exposure; it can also be in certain foods, including some kinds of fish, egg yolks, and fortified dairy and grain products.  Certain people – those with decreased sun exposure or diets with low vitamin D – may be more vulnerable to […]

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SSRI Antidepressants and Male Fertility

Back in 2009, we reported on a study which demonstrated that paroxetine (Paxil) may affect sperm quality in men treated with this antidepressant. A new study reports a similar finding in men treated with sertraline (Zoloft), another selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI). In this randomized, single-blind study, men with premature ejaculation were treated with either […]

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Clinical Update: Use of Methylphenidate During Pregnancy

For women with mild to moderate attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) symptoms, we frequently recommend discontinuing medication and switching to a non-pharmacologic intervention.  Although these women might experience some decrease in their level of functioning, they typically are able to forgo pharmacologic treatment and do quite well.  However, there are other women with more severe symptoms which […]

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Understanding the Link Between Maternal Diet, Depression and Child Development

While the human brain continues develop throughout the first twenty or so years of life, the most vulnerable periods of brain development occur during pregnancy and the first 2 to 3 years of the child’s life, when there is rapid brain growth. Various studies have demonstrated that women exposed to famine during pregnancy have  an increased […]

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