What Can Cause Postpartum Depression?

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Postpartum depression can be a troubling condition. A woman who experiences postpartum depression may feel, in addition to her depression, a sense of guilt that she is not bubbling over with joy about her new baby. In addition, postpartum depression can interfere with a woman’s relationship with her new baby and her responsibilities as a new mother.

Depression can be caused by a variety of factors. For the woman who has just had a baby, postpartum depression may be a special concern. In many cases, it isn’t known what causes depression. Some research suggests that postpartum depression may be related to the shifting levels of estrogen and progesterone that takes place in a woman’s body during and immediately after pregnancy. Other research suggests that the hormones produced by the thyroid also drop after birth, and that these drops can also cause the symptoms of depression. However, it may not always be possible to attach a single, simple cause to postpartum depression.

There are certain risk factors that can increase the chance that a woman will experience postpartum depression. These may include:

  • A family history of depression or mental illness. If a woman is prone to depression genetically, she is particularly vulnerable after giving birth.
  • Situational factors. Sometimes, depression is brought on by things going on around a person. If a new mother has little support from family and friends, or if she is going through financial or marital difficulties, she may be more likely to experience postpartum depression.
  • Youth. Young mothers are more likely to experience postpartum depression.
  • Stress. The general stress of the responsibilities of being a new mother can sometimes be overwhelming, not to mention the sheer physical stress that your body has bee through during the pregnancy and delivery process.
  • A lack of sleep or rest. Some research suggests that a lack of sleep, or broken sleep patterns that often accompany having a small baby in the house, can contribute to postpartum depression.

The good news is that postpartum depression is treatable. The most successful treatment of postpartum depression will likely include a combination of therapy, antidepressant medications, and a social support structure. Together, these treatments will exponentially increase a woman’s chances of dealing with postpartum depression successfully.

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This entry was posted in After Pregnancy.


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