Postpartum depression does not have a single cause. Both physical and emotional factors contribute to its onset. Postpartum depression does not occur because of something a mother does or does not do.
The hormones (estrogen and progesterone) in a woman’s body rapidly drop after childbirth. This hormonal change triggers a cascade of chemical fluctuations that can trigger mood swings. In addition, many mothers have trouble getting the rest they need to fully recover from giving birth. Constant sleep deprivation can lead to physical discomfort and exhaustion, which can contribute to the symptoms of postpartum depression.
Some of the more common symptoms a woman may experience include:
“Baby blues” describes the worry, unhappiness, and fatigue a lot of women experience after giving birth. Babies require a lot of care, so it’s normal for mothers to be worried about or tired from providing that care. Baby blues, which affects up to 80 percent of mothers, include mild feelings that last a week or two and go away on their own.
With postpartum depression, sadness and anxiety can be extreme and might interfere with a woman’s ability to care for herself or her family. Because of the severity of the symptoms, postpartum depression usually requires treatment. The condition, which occurs in nearly 15 percent of births, may begin shortly before or any time after childbirth but commonly begins between a week and a month after delivery.
Some women are at greater risk for developing postpartum depression because they have one or more risk factors, such as:
Symptoms of depression during or after a previous pregnancy