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Postpartum Depression Widespread in China
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Ms. Tang, 28, had a baby less than a month ago, but cannot bring herself to look at her child.


She describes her current emotional state: "My cut is so painful, and he keeps on crying and crying. I have to nurse him every one to two hours, no matter day or night. I don't know why things turn out to be so depressed, I was so happy before his arrival."


Tang is far from alone in having this unexpected feeling.  


Working as a psychologist at the Beijing Xuanwu Hospital, Zhan Shuqin reveals that close to half of new mothers suffer from postpartum depression. A Beijing Morning Post report places at 150,000 the number of babies to be born in Beijing this year.


Experts have warned that depression could completely overshadow the happiness of a newborn child, with families needing to pay special care to mothers' health.


Depression can fall at anytime during the first year of the baby's life. It can be deceptive to spot since sleep disorders, mood swings and weight fluctuations that often manifest themselves after giving birth can also be symptoms of depression.


Jiang Hong from the Chinese PLA General Hospital explains that although depression can come from hormonal changes, the stresses of real life, such as work pressure or anxiety at having to raise a child, can be major contributing factors.


Jiang adds that new mothers in China also face a unique challenge in avoiding depression. Most of China's new parents come from the only-child generation, who were often the core of their family's attention. With the new arrival, the focus of the family will shift, potentially leading the mothers to feel cast out.


The matter is further worsened since depression is often misdiagnosed and thus not treated properly. Currently, a select few maternity hospitals have psychological aid services, and patients are only hospitalized once the depression has severely taken hold.


( March 26, 2007)

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