Study: General anesthesia during C-sections could lead to postpartum depression

National and World

Symptoms of postpartum depression include crying more often than usual, feelings of anger, withdrawing from loved ones and feeling numb or disconnected from your baby

(CNN Newsource) – About one in nine American women experience symptoms of postpartum depression, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A new study suggests some women may be more likely to experience the illness than others.

Women who have general anesthesia most commonly used during C-sections are significantly more likely to experience severe postpartum depression, according to researchers at Columbia University.

They studied more than 428,000 hospital discharge records in New York from a seven-year period.

The researchers determined women who had general anesthesia were 54% more likely to experience postpartum depression and 91% more likely to have thoughts of suicide or self-harm, compared to those who had regional anesthesia, like spinal blocks or epidurals.

Symptoms of postpartum depression include crying more often than usual, feelings of anger, withdrawing from loved ones and feeling numb or disconnected from your baby.

Researchers suggested their findings may be because general anesthesia induces sleep, delaying breastfeeding and skin-to-skin interaction between the mother and infant. It also often results in more acute and persistent pain after childbirth.

The authors caution that their findings don’t necessarily mean general anesthesia causes postpartum depression. More research is being done.

They say general anesthesia can be good in some situations, like when an emergency C-section is required, but should be avoided when possible.

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