Postpartum depression (PPD) is the sudden dip in a woman’s mood and mind-set shortly after giving birth. This is commonly indicated by sleep disturbances, sadness, self-isolation, lack of appetite, and lack of energy. Although there isn’t any one hard reason for its manifestation, many have attributed it to lack of vitamins and unpredictable hormonal changes.

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This form of clinical depression may last from two weeks to years, and as much as it hurts mothers, it also affects children.

A new study collated data on 6,550 mothers and babies in order to see the effect of PPD on a child’s growth, NBCNews.com reports. Led by Pamela J. Surkan of the John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, researchers surveyed the moods of mothers nine months after giving birth, and learned that 24 percent experienced mild depression symptoms, while 17 percent showed signs of going through severe depression.

Researchers also followed the children as they grow. At age four, those whose mothers suffered from mild PPD had short statures as compared to those whose mothers didn’t. By the time they reached five, the effect disappeared.

On the other hand, children whose mothers suffered from severe PPD grew slower, and the possibility of them being short for their age grew to 50 percent as they reached five years old.

Although the study didn’t manage to explain how PPD affects children’s height, Surkan explains that it may be due to lack of nourishment. “We think that mothers who are depressed or blue might have a hard time following through with caregiving tasks,” Surkan explains. “We know that children of depressed mothers often suffer from poor attachment and the depression seems to have effects on other developmental outcomes. It makes sense that mothers who have depressive symptoms might have reduced ability to take care of infants, that they might not always pick up cues from their kids.”

If you think you’re experiencing symptoms of PPD, acknowledge it, and try to talk to other people who are going through the same thing. Also make sure that you see your doctor in order to get the professional help.

(Photo by Margarit.Ralev.Com via sxc.hu)

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