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January 1968

"Postpartum Blues" Syndrome: A Description and Related Variables

Author Affiliations

Palo Alto, Calif
From the Department of Psychiatry, Stanford University School of Medicine.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1968;18(1):16-27. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1968.01740010018003

THE TRANSIENT mild depression occurring post partum (the "postpartum blues") is so ubiquitous and ostensibly benign that it has not often been deemed worthy of serious study. Consequently, considerable uncertainty exists about the basic characteristics and significance of this syndrome. In females, the study of stress in the life cycle demands attention to endocrine-behavioral interaction, since some of the times of greatest life stress (ie, menarche, pregnancy, and menopause) occur simultaneously with marked fluctuations in the level of circulating steroid hormones. The mild depression of the puerperium has several intriguing aspects. Although it is associated with a critical phase in the life cycle, the dysphoria curiously occurs after delivery at a time when one would expect women to feel joyous. In fact, this period is occasionally the time of onset of a major emotional upheaval—the postpartum psychosis. Furthermore, the depression

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