Postpartum Depression

Postpartum depression is a type of depression that affects some women shortly after childbirth. It is not uncommon for women to experience temporary mood disorders after giving birth. If it goes on for more than two week, it is called postpartum depression.

  • Causes

    The cause of postpartum depression is unclear. The cause may be related to sudden hormonal changes during and after delivery. Untreated thyroid conditions may also be associated with postpartum depression.

  • Definition


    Postpartum depression
    is a type of
    depression
    that affects some women shortly after childbirth. It is not uncommon for women to experience temporary mood disorders after giving birth. If it goes on for more than two week, it is called postpartum depression.

  • Diagnosis

    The doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam may be done. Your doctor may ask you to have blood tests to see if an undiagnosed physical problem, like a thyroid condition, could be contributing to your symptoms. You may be referred to a mental health professional.

  • Prevention

    Since postpartum depression is aggravated by stress, life stressors should be kept to a minimum after delivery. The following may help prevent postpartum depression:

  • Risk Factors

    Factors that can increase your chance of developing postpartum depression include:

    • Previous episode of
      depression
      or postpartum depression

    • History of
      anxiety
      disorder
    • Family member with depression
    • Lack of support system and/or strained relationship with partner
    • Difficulty with breastfeeding
    Central Nervous System
    Female brain nerves torso
    Hormonal changes in the brain may contribute to postpartum depression.
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  • Symptoms

    Symptoms usually occur within six months after childbirth, though they may begin during the pregnancy and may last from a few weeks to a few months. It most often started within the first few weeks after childbirth. Symptoms may range from mild depression to severe psychosis.

    Symptoms may include:

    • Loss of interest or pleasure in life
    • Change in weight or appetite
    • Rapid mood swings
    • Poor concentration, memory loss, difficulty making decisions
    • Insomnia
    • Sleeping too much

    • Feelings of irritability,
      anxiety, or panic
    • Restlessness
    • Feelings of hopelessness or guilt
    • Obsessive thoughts, especially unreasonable, repetitive fears about your child’s health and welfare
    • Lack of energy or motivation
    • Thoughts or death or suicide

    More serious symptoms associated with postpartum depression that may require immediate medical attention include:

    • Lack of interest in your infant
    • Fear of hurting or killing oneself or one's child
    • Hallucinations or delusions
    • Loss of contact with reality

  • Treatment

    Treatment for postpartum depression may include counseling, medication, or both.