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The Dangers of Untreated Postpartum Depression: A New Kind of Birth Injury?

September 11th, 2018
By Zach Christiansen of The Bowling Christiansen Law Firm, A Professional Law Corporation on Tuesday, September 11, 2018.

JACKSON, Mississippi. Some of the most feared birth injuries are those that leave the infant injured. Improper use of forceps can lead to serious injuries in newborns. Problems and complications with delivery can lead to the baby receiving a lack of oxygen, and can lead to the development of Cerebral Palsy. Birth injury to the mother is another issue. Many women suffer life-altering injuries while giving birth. Only recently have doctors and activists begun to speak about the importance of getting mothers proper treatment during and after childbirth.

Yet, there is one diagnosis that has the potential to impact both the baby and the mother: postpartum depression. According to the Atlantic, 38 percent of women who develop postpartum depression after childbirth find that the condition doesn’t go away. Women who struggle with postpartum depression may find that doctors might be more likely to dismiss their cases, telling them that it will just go away. Faster treatment for postpartum depression decreases the risk that a woman will continue to experience its effects long-term. Unfortunately, not all women receive the immediate treatment that they need. It can be difficult to tell the difference between hormonal changes, a mood disorder, and the normal stressors of parenthood.

However, for some women, postpartum depression is so severe, that it leads to postpartum psychosis. These episodes can put both the mother and baby in physical danger. The Atlantic reports that some women kill their babies during these episodes. For these women, the physical changes occurring in their brain can make them confused and can even make them hallucinate. They may perceive dangers that aren’t there. Women who suffer from postpartum psychosis are also more likely to commit suicide. While some women who suffer from this condition have a prior history of mental illness, some have no prior history at all.

The failure to properly diagnose postpartum psychosis can have consequences not only for the infant, but for the mother, especially if she enters the criminal justice system which doesn’t always understand the mental and physical changes that childbirth can bring.

What can doctors do to better treat postpartum depression? Women who are feeling sad for longer than two weeks after giving birth should consider seeking treatment. Postpartum depression is often treated with medication and with psychotherapy. However, in order to receive treatment, women need to be taken seriously by their doctors. Unfortunately, some doctors may not always offer treatment. When women don’t receive the care they need, their depression can impact their children and they run the risk of developing long-term depression.

If you or a loved one has suffered from undiagnosed or undertreated postpartum depression, consider seeking a second opinion and getting help. If your undiagnosed or undertreated depression has led to other health complications, injury, or long-term illness, you may have certain rights under the law. The The Bowling Christiansen Law Firm are Jackson, Mississippi, birth injury lawyers who understand that birth injuries are diverse and some injuries are not always immediately apparent. Your mental health should be taken seriously, whether or not you have just given birth. If you believe a doctor’s misdiagnosis led to your injury or chronic illness, visit us at to learn more.

The Bowling Christiansen Law Firm, A Professional Law Corporation

1615 Poydras Street, Suite 1050

New Orleans, Louisiana, 70112

Phone: (504) 586-5200

Toll Free: (504) 586-5200

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