chapter  7
16 Pages

Childbirth and depression

The birth of a child can be followed by a psychological disorder in the mother, the gravity and duration of which are variable: everyone is familiar with the passing sadness that comes after giving birth. However, the more persistent neurotic depression is more serious, the collapse of the borderline mother is ominous, and psychosis – the complete loss of any sense of reality after the baby’s birth – is life-threatening. The disorder appears as psychosis in 1-3 out of a thousand births, as a serious emotional disorder in 1-3 per cent, as a neurotic depression in 10 per cent, and as a light depression, known as the postpartum blues, supposedly in one out of every three women.1 These are conservative estimates; the numbers may well be much higher.