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Postpartum Mood Disorders

Edited by Laura J. Miller, M.D.

  • ISBN 978-0-88048-929-4
  • Item #8929

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A surge of clinical and research interest in postpartum mood disturbances has recently lead to a greater understanding of their phenomenology, etiologies, relationships to one another and to psychiatric disorders. Summarizing these recent advances in theory, research, and treatment, Postpartum Mood Disorders hypothesizes that the traditional categories of postpartum mood disorders—postpartum blues, postpartum depression and postpartum psychosis—are not necessarily on a continuum. Though interrelated in some cases, these categories represent distinct postpartum states, with different phenomenologies, etiologies, predictive factors, and treatments.

Focusing on the biological aspects of puerperal mood disturbance, the book's first section explores how the ubiquitous, mild postpartum mood changes known as baby blues can be caused by the effects of sudden hormonal withdrawal. It further reviews data about how postpartum depression relates to mood changes occurring at other parts of the reproductive cycle, such as menopause; examines the pattern of mood changes across the reproductive cycle in relation to hormonal changes; and describes cultural differences in understanding, conceptualizing and reacting to postpartum mood changes.

Reviewing the clinical features and differential diagnosis of postpartum psychosis, this timely monograph investigates data about whether psychoses of postpartum onset differs from other psychoses in terms of phenomenology, family history and prognosis, and addresses the acute and long-term impact of major postpartum psychiatric disorders on children—a central question for families and clinicians.

The book's second section covers treatment strategies for postpartum disorders, examining psychotherapeutic modalities as well as pharmacologic and psychosocial interventions, including the role of self-help groups and volunteer networks, and their relationship to professional care systems.

Authored by pioneering clinicians, researchers, and self-help volunteers who have worked with new mothers and their families in dealing with postpartum mood disturbances, Postpartum Mood Disorders provides a much-needed, thorough coverage of a highly prevalent, but often misunderstood, subject.


  • Introduction to the Clinical Practice Series. Introduction.

    Section I: The Nature of Postpartum Mood Disorders.

    Beyond the hypotheses about postpartum reactivity. Postpartum depression in relation to other reproductive cycle mood changes. Postpartum depression in relation to other psychiatric disorders. Biological determinants of postpartum depression. Sociocultural aspects of postpartum depression. Postpartum psychoses. Effects of postpartum disorders on parenting and on offspring.

    Section II: Treatment and Prevention.

    Interpersonal psychotherapy for postpartum depression. Couples therapy for postpartum mood disorders. Pharmacotherapy and electroconvulsive therapy for postpartum mood disorders. Role of self-help techniques for postpartum mood disorders. Prevention of postpartum mood disorders. Index.

About the Authors

Laura J. Miller, M.D., is Assistant Professor of the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Illinois, Chicago College of Medicine in Chicago, Illinois.

A delightful, authoritative compendium of the latest information on the etiology, phenomenology, and management of postpartum mood disorders. Women and their doctors will be grateful for this newest, evidence-based arrival on the postpartum mood disorder scene. The authors combine a strong advocacy of best practice with a refreshing willingness to admit where the answers are yet unknown. I highly recommend this book to women's health clinicians and advocates.—Donna E. Stewart, M.D., F.R.C.P.C., Lillian Love Chair in Women's Health, The Toronto Hospital, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Depression and manic-depression following childbirth were identified in ancient times, and continue to plague many new mothers and their families, often eluding diagnosis and leaving lasting scars on the mother's self-esteem and family relationships, to say nothing of her emotional and physical health. In Postpartum Mood Disorders, Laura Miller brings together world-class experts in every aspect of the subject, from basic science (both biomedical and sociocultural), to treatment, to prevention. The book offers the student, the researcher, the clinician, and the teacher both breadth and depth in the consideration of this constellation of diseases, as well as the tools to provide state-of-the-art, empathic care.—Nada L. Stotland, M.D., Professor, Department of Psychiatry, Rush Medical College of Rush University, Chicago, Illinois

This comprehensive text, detailing recent advances in research and treatment on postpartum mood disorders, fills a long-standing need for information on women's mental health issues in general, and postpartum mood states in particular. It is outstanding in its thorough and thoughtful treatment of the subject matter and makes a significant contribution to the study and treatment of this important group of disorders.—Doody's Health Sciences Book Review Journal

Postpartum Mood Disorders is a valuable book for those who wish an overview of the issues, past research, and treatment modalities used in this field, and it is valuable in documenting how far our knowledge has progressed since the early 1970s.—Journal of Clinical Psychiatry

Postpartum Mood Disorders comes as a welcome addition to the literature and helpful guide for practitioners in the mental health field as well as for primary care physicians taking care of women and babies and their families. . . . Overall, this is a helpful contribution to the field of mental health. The reading is easy, and the references are an outstanding sampling of the writings in this field by authors who are working with new mothers.—Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease

Physicians and other health care workers should find this book immensely readable and helpful in their task of caring for women during postpartum period.—New England Journal of Medicine

Postpartum Mood Disorders offers clinicians and researchers alike a comprehensive, well-organized, and up-to-date overview of a highly prevalent, but often misunderstood, group of disorders.—Digest of Neurology and Psychiatry

Postpartum Mood Disorders is a comprehensive collection of papers addressing both practical clinical problems and evolving research questions in this important area of women's mental health. . . . Postpartum Mood Disorders will be helpful to clinicians caring for childbearing women, whether they are in community settings or psychiatric hospitals. Guidance for identifying women at high risk for postpartum disorders, preventing the conditions, and conducting meticulous workups of depressed or psychotic patients is clearly given.—Psychiatric Services

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