Pregnancy Postpartum Depression

Although it is not talked about as much as it should be, postpartum depression is beginning to become a more common phrase these days. With the increasing attention the issue is gaining these days, more women are able to find help sooner for their depression. Affecting one in 10 women, postpartum depression can be treated with medications and counseling. Left untreated, it can continue to get worse and may last for up to a year. While a type of depression, postpartum depression is not the same as the depression that can affect both men and women. To learn more about this type of depression, visit

Postpartum Depression Facts
Between 15 and 20% of women who have given birth recently will be affected by postpartum depression. While it is a serious condition, women who receive proper medical attention quickly can help relieve the symptoms. Unlike the baby blues, which show-up within the first few days after birth, postpartum depression can begin anywhere during the first year after giving birth. Women who have recently miscarried or weaned their child may also be affected by postpartum depression.

Signs of Depression
Typical postpartum depression symptoms are often similar to those of the baby blues. However, women with postpartum depression tend to feel the symptoms more intensely. When your depression begins to interfere with your daily activities, you should recognize it as one sure sign that your depression is more than the baby blues. Other postpartum depression signs include:

  • Restlessness
  • Irritability
  • Feeling sad and crying more than usual
  • Fatigue
  • Insomnia or sleeping too much
  • Change in eating habits
  • Change in weight
  • Difficulties concentrating
  • Feelings of worthlessness and guilt
  • Lack of interest or over interest in baby
  • Loss of interest in sex
  • Loss of interest in daily activities
  • Headaches, chest pains, heart palpitations, numbness, and/or hyperventilating

Causes of Postpartum Depression
Most experts feel that the sudden drop in estrogen and progesterone is the reason behind postpartum depression. In women who are not pregnant, the rise and sudden fall of the hormones every month is the cause of many women feeling grouchy and overly sensitive just before their periods.

During pregnancy, these hormones steadily increase for nine months before suddenly plummeting just after childbirth. They continue to decline until they return to normal, pre-pregnancy levels. As a result, many women feel emotionally frail after giving birth. For some, these drastically changing hormonal levels will result in postpartum depression.

Some have also linked postpartum depression to low thyroid levels. A simple blood test can determine if this is the cause of your depression. Thyroid medication can be used to easily treat your depression.

Tied to the above postpartum depression theory, Bronfenbrenner’s ecology theory states that women with postpartum depression need to be evaluated within the context of the systems in which they operate. People are affected and shaped by everything around them. Therefore, using Bronfenbrenner’s ecology theory, women with postpartum depression should be examined in connection with their family, workplace, community, society and culture in which they live.

It is also believed that the changes a new baby makes in your life can also contribute to the depression. Lack of sleep, emotional stress, feeling overwhelmed, suffering from a loss of identity, and feeling as though you have lost control and freedom can all negatively impact on your mood. Women who do not have a strong social and emotional support group are also more vulnerable to postpartum depression.

Who’s at Risk
Postpartum depression can strike any woman regardless of whether this is her first child or her fourth child. Women who have a family history or past personal history of depression are 30% more likely to suffer from postpartum depression. Women who have had postpartum depression with a previous pregnancy are 50 to 80% more likely to suffer from it in future pregnancies. Women who experience depression during pregnancy are also more at risk of developing postpartum depression.

Coping With Postpartum Depression
It is important that women suffering from postpartum depression get help as soon as they can. Without proper treatment, your depression may get worse and can continue for up to a year. Treating postpartum depression is usually not hard and most women respond well to the various forms of therapy.

Antidepressant medication is one common treatment. However, women that are breastfeeding should discuss the issue with their doctor first, as some antidepressants can end up in your breast milk. Psychological counseling is also often recommended as treatment, either on its own or in combination with medications.

Many women have also found support groups to be very helpful. These regular meetings allow you to get out of your house and talk with other women who are going through the same situation as you. Having a strong home support base, talking with your partner about how you feel and getting out of the house regularly to socialize with friends have also been found to significantly help women with postpartum depression.

Non-traditional therapies, like yoga and acupressure, may help relieve some of your depression. Getting regular exercise and eating a healthy, well-balanced diet can also help to elevate your mood and general sense of well-being.

Recommended Link
Writing about your depression is not only cathartic, but it can also be inspirational and helpful to other women dealing with postpartum depression. Visit Pregnancy Stories to post your tale and offer support to women also struggling with postpartum depression.


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