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Postpartum Depression Causes

(Also Known As: Postpartum Causes, Depression Causes, Baby Blues Causes, Pregnancy Depression Causes, Maternity Blues Causes, Postpartum Exhaustion Causes)

(Reviewed by: Paul Peterson, Licensed Therapist)

What Causes Postpartum Depression?

There has been no identified single cause of the development of postpartum depression, but there are several possible causes for mothers to develop the condition that can be influenced by the following factors: 3

Biological and Physical Changes

  • The dramatic drop in the estrogen and progesterone levels after birth causes hormonal changes in the mother’s body thereby making them prone to experience depression.
  • Changes from the thyroid gland hormonal secretion can also cause a woman to feel tired, sluggish, and intensely depressed.
  • Mood swings and fatigue often occur due to the changes in blood pressure, metabolism, immune system, and blood volume.

Emotional Factors

  • Mothers often experience emotional distress caused by lack of sleep and the overwhelming responsibility of taking care of their child, that they often have trouble handling minor problems. They feel anxiousness in taking care of the child and they may feel less attractive and experience a struggling sense of identity. These emotional factors often make them feel they have lost control over their life and may contribute in postpartum depression occurring.

Lifestyle Influences

  • The kind of lifestyle lived by the mother can also contribute to the feeling of depression, such as caring for a demanding baby, financial problems, difficulty in breast feeding, and the lack of support from the partner or their loved ones.

Other Risk Factors:

  • Unwanted pregnancy
  • Unsupportive spouse
  • Marital difficulties
  • Family history of depression or mental illness
  • Personal history of previous depression during pregnancy or at other times
  • External stressful events, such as loss of job and financial problems
  • Recent separation or divorce
  • Obstetric complication
  • Early childhood trauma or abuse, or coming from a dysfunctional family
  • History of thyroid problems
  • Formula feeding other than breastfeeding
  • Cigarette smoking
  • Low self esteem
  • Child care stress
  • Prenatal depression and anxiety
  • Life stress
  • Low social support
  • Low economic status
  • Sever premenstrual syndrome
  • Infant temperament problem/colic problem
  • Maternity blues
  • Single parent

The formula feeding, cigarette smoking and the history of depression are risk factors with the highest correlation of the occurrence of prenatal depression. Studies have shown that women with the highest prenatal depression will likely experience a higher level of postpartum depression, while those with mild prenatal depression will also have low levels of postpartum depression. 4

Could You Have Postpartum Depression?

Postpartum Depression Topics

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