- Physical changes after childbirth might partly explain why women are vulnerable, including fluctuating hormone levels, Munk-Olsen said. These, alone or combined with sleep deprivation and the demands of breast-feeding could trigger mental problems, she said. Hard data on the number of women worldwide affected by postpartum mental illness are scant, but postpartum depression alone affects about 15 percent of U.S. women.
Mothers generally bear the brunt of sleep deprivation, and many new mothers are socially isolated or live far from relatives who could provide support, Stotland said. "There may be people who say, 'My mother raised eight children and she never needed to have mental health care,' and others will say, 'Finally somebody has noticed just how stressful this is and what people go through,'" Stotland said.
05 December 2006
Article in the Washington Post about new mothers and their risk for mental health issues: