There's no single cause of postpartum depression. Physical, emotional and lifestyle factors may all play a role.
Sept. 11, 2012
- Physical changes. After childbirth, a dramatic drop in hormones (estrogen and progesterone) in your body may contribute to postpartum depression. Other hormones produced by your thyroid gland also may drop sharply — which can leave you feeling tired, sluggish and depressed. Changes in your blood volume, blood pressure, immune system and metabolism can contribute to fatigue and mood swings.
- Emotional factors. When you're sleep deprived and overwhelmed, you may have trouble handling even minor problems. You may be anxious about your ability to care for a newborn. You may feel less attractive or struggle with your sense of identity. You may feel that you've lost control over your life. Any of these factors can contribute to postpartum depression.
- Lifestyle influences. Many lifestyle factors can lead to postpartum depression, including a demanding baby or older siblings, difficulty breast-feeding, financial problems, and lack of support from your partner or other loved ones.
- Depression during and after pregnancy fact sheet. National Institutes of Health. http://www.womenshealth.gov/publications/our-publications/fact-sheet/depression-pregnancy.cfm. Accessed Aug. 1, 2012.
- Pearstein T, et al. Postpartum depression. American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology. 2009;200:357.
- Lusskin SI, et al. Postpartum blues and depression. http://www.uptodate.com/index. Accessed Aug. 2, 2012.
- Gabbe SG, et al. Obstetrics: Normal and Problem Pregnancies. 6th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2012. http://www.mdconsult.com/das/book/body/208746819-4/0/1528/0.html. Accessed Aug. 6, 2012.
- Depression. National Institutes of Mental Health. http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/depression/complete-index.shtml. Accessed Aug. 6, 2012.
- Major depressive episode. In: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders DSM-IV-TR. 4th ed. Arlington, Va.: American Psychiatric Association; 2000. http://www.psychiatryonline.com. Accessed Aug. 6, 2012.
- Hirst KP, et al. Postpartum major depression. American Family Physician. 2010;82:926.
- Postpartum depression. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. http://www.acog.org/~/media/For%20Patients/faq091.ashx. Accessed Aug. 7, 2012.
- Harms RW (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Aug. 22, 2012.
- Hall-Flavin DK (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Aug. 27, 2012.
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