Postpartum Depression Causes

Postpartum Depression Causes

Depression is a feeling of sad, unhappy, blue, miserable and down in the dumps. Most people feel this way at some point in time of for a short period of time. Depression can be severe, moderate or mild. Postpartum depression is the onset of symptoms of depressive within four weeks of childbirth as defined by the DSM-IV. Symptoms experienced are similar to major depression which comprise mood fluctuation, infant well-being preoccupation, complete less interest in the infant which incase it is prolonged lead to failure to thrive syndrome. Postpartum depression woman may experience feelings that are like the baby blues, despair, sadness, irritability and anxiety. It is estimated that more than 60% new mothers experience this baby blues. This form of depression affect less frequently in men after the child is born. This paper aims to address the causes of postpartum depression and its connection with other biopsychological processes.


The cause of postpartum depression is not exactly known. One of the factors that contribute to this is the hormonal level changes during the period of pregnancy and immediately at the point of childbirth. Another factor that contribute to postpartum depression is when the child does not meet the expectations of the mother which triggers stress and eventually leads to depression. Considerations of the possible effects of maternal age, motherhood expectations, birthing practices and level of social support for the new mother have been taken into account by studies (O‟Hara & Swain, 1996). There are other reasons as to why a woman can be depressed for instance hormonal changes or life event that is stressful like death in the family. All this factors can lead to brain chemical changes that cause depression. There is no one trigger that causes depression as there are several underlying factors.

Women who have been associated or experienced depression before becoming pregnant, are at higher risk of for postpartum depression. The level of sick leave during the period of pregnancy and medical consultation frequency can be early indication of postpartum depression. Women who visits their doctors most frequently during this period of pregnancy and those who took sick-leaves mostly have been linked to postpartum depression development. The risks becomes higher with those women who have experienced two or more abortions or women with obstetric complications history. Premenstrual syndrome relationship difficult, lack of support network, events that are stressful during the period of pregnancy or after delivery can also increase the risk of postpartum depression (Field, 2017).

Factors that contribute to depression during and after pregnancy

During pregnancy

During the period of pregnancy, several factors contribute and increase a woman’s chance of depression. They include: family history of mental illnesses, anxiety about the fetus, depression history or substance abuse, little support from friends and family members, financial or marital problems, problems with previous problems and young age.

After birth

After the period of pregnancy, changes in hormones in the body of the woman may trigger depression symptoms. In the period of pregnancy, the amount of progesterone and estrogen increases rapidly in the body of a woman. During the first 24 hours after the child is born, these hormones levels reduce rapidly back to their normal levels of non-pregnant. This rapid change in the level of hormones can lead to depression which subsequently affect the moods of the woman.

Thyroid hormone levels may also drop after the child is born. The thyroid gland is responsible for regulation of metabolism in the body (ERDEM & CELEPKOLU, 2014). Low levels of thyroid hormone can lead to symptoms of depression for instance depressed mood, low levels of interest in things, lack of concentration, irritability, sleeping disorders, fatigue and gain of weight. Feeling tired after delivering the child, sleep patterns that are broken, and not having enough rest for the mother to regain her strength fully contribute to postpartum depression. The feeling of being overwhelmed with anew or another baby to take care of and the mother’s doubt of whether she will be the good mother brings about postpartum depression.

Other factors that contribute to postpartum depression include: feeling stress from variations in home and work routines, developing a feeling of loss of identity of who you are before the baby is born and having less free time and less control over time. There is also the risk of postpartum psychosis which occurs between 2 and 4 per 1000 births. Much more severe depression is the psychosis in the loss of contact with reality which can include hallucinations, delusions, disorganized speech, mood swings, and pathological fear of violent behavior against themselves and against others. Treatment for PPD can reduce the length of suffering and its severity. Untreated, the Baby Blues may go away on its own (and does in most cases). PPD may or may not go away without treatment. Speaking to a health care provider as soon as symptoms occur is the safest way to ensure prompt treatment and return to normal life (Dennis, Brown & Morrell, 2016).

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