“All mothers are tired right after having a baby – it helps them get the rest that they need to recover and heal from the physical and mental stressors of childbirth,” said Elizabeth Corwin, the study's lead author and an associate professor of nursing at Ohio State University. “But for most women, fatigue steadily fades within the first two weeks of giving birth.

What is unusual and detrimental is a fatigue that persists, the researchers say. In this study it was fatigue, not stress or a history of depression, that was the best indicator of which women went on to develop postpartum depression.

Corwin and her colleagues recruited pregnant women who were near the end of their third trimester. A total of 31 women completed the study. Each woman carried her baby to a full term and delivered vaginally without complications.

By the end of the fourth week after birth, eleven of the 31 women in the study showed symptoms of depression – seven of these women had a family history of depression. Of this group of seven women, four also had a personal history of depression.

But it was ultimately fatigue that best predicted which women would develop postpartum depression because ten of the eleven women who showed symptoms during the fourth and final week of the study had also reported higher-than-normal levels of fatigue two weeks earlier.

“A personal history of depression is an excellent way to predict which women are at risk for postpartum depression,” Corwin said. “Still, using that as the sole screening tool would have left seven of the women undiagnosed. “Likewise, a family history of depression is a risk factor,” she continued. “But by using family history alone we would have missed four women who went on to develop signs of depression.”

MEDICA.de; Source: Ohio State University