"The greatest risk is suicide": the postpartum depression of young mothers, a disease still taboo

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INTERVIEW – While the United States just released the first postpartum depression drug, we tried to find out what the symptoms of this disease were and how many women were affected in France. Dr. Philippe Deruelle, General Secretary of the National College of Gynecology and Obstetrics, answers our questions.

This is a first doctor in the United States: a drug to combat depression in new mothers will be put on the market. This is good news for many women affected by this serious disease which, if serious, can lead to suicide.

In France, doctors are just beginning to consider this pathology, which is always very taboo. Regarding the search for a therapy, it is still at the stage of trial and error. We wanted to do an inventory by interviewing Dr. Philippe Deruelle, gynecologist and general secretary of the national gynecology-obstetrics college.

1 – Postpartum depression or baby blues, is it the same?

Philippe Deruelle: "All women will experience a significant drop in post-birth pregnancy hormones, combined with labor fatigue and recoil. We know this fall is the origin of baby-blues: a wave in the soul that appears within three days of giving birth and spontaneously disappears in two weeks at the maximum postpartum depression, it is a disease, with much more intense clinical signs that will extend over time and this will not go away without medical help, which could include the feeling of not being able to take care of the child, women who have had a past depression, who have had a traumatic birth, or who have been subjected to violence at birth, are obviously more likely to develop this general malaise "And the worst thing is that it is often a lack of understanding of the family. Because, finally, this pathology is a small taboo." Mothers are often forced to don't say anything when they're not well. Which woman, indeed, would dare to confess that she wants to reject her child?

2- What are the symptoms?

"We are tired, we don't want anything, some mothers don't wash, they feel completely overwhelmed or they always want to cry, this is the big picture. But sometimes it goes to see some black ideas. As with all forms of depression, the greater risk is suicide, and today it is known to be the leading cause of death in women after pregnancy, postpartum causes of suicide because it is considered unrelated to pregnancy, but we are going backwards.The pregnancy is emotionally involved in this passage of acting is a more aggravating factor for those who have fragile land, but not always, and this is where the problem lies ".

3 – How many women are affected in France?

"It is a disease that we have known for a long time but we do not care much because it is still very taboo, postpartum depression, it is a kind of poor relation of our discipline. Neglected because we have put our priorities elsewhere for a long time, so we never really counted the people affected by this disease. It is thought to affect 10-20% of women, but it is not excluded that this figure is more important, these are only estimates. "

4 – How is this form of depression treated?

"Psychological support is the most appropriate treatment, for example, it might be wise to follow behavioral therapy. Switching to drugs can overcome a difficult course but this should not be a panacea. It is essential to listen to young mothers, revitalize them, it will be much more effective. of antidepressants, supported by the pharmaceutical industry. In this sense, the Prado, this service that allows you to leave motherhood faster thanks to followed by a midwife at home, helps us a lot to identify a possible psychological fragility and to accompany these women. "We also see that prevention is essential. For the other side of the Canal, the British have shown that by surrounding the perinatal period of these unwell mothers in particular, they have participated in the reduction of the suicide of young mothers ".

5 – Is the drug authorized by the United States an important step forward?

"In France, there is a research on the nasal oxytocin spray because we know that this hormone plays a role in postpartum depression, but I have not heard of this new antidepressant launched in the United States. type of pathology drugs are not the most effective, it is above all to identify the discomfort behind these women and accompany them psychologically ".

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