What are postpartum depression causes? It would be great to have one concrete answer to that questions, but there is no known single cause for postpartum depression. Certain aspects of a mother’s life, however, may contribute to the development of postpartum depression. Understanding common postpartum depression causes can allow a mother and her doctor to formulate a personalized treatment plan that will get the results she needs to function normally.
A new child can cause a great deal of confusion and stress. The onset of the increased responsibility can have a huge affect on a woman’s emotional stability. For instance, anxiety and worry about taking care of a new baby can easily begin to rule a mom’s world.
Fears about something going wrong with the baby, feeling unattractive or dissatisfied with the “new mom body,” or second-guessing her abilities as a mother or spouse can lead to severe anxiety, anger, or sadness. Some women even feel consumed by the identity of being a mother or fear that they are losing control over their life and any sense of normalcy that they once had.
Once these feelings take root, they can easily grow and spread until they are out of control. As time continues on, these feelings can consume a mother to the point that it can be a real hassle for her to carry out her everyday activities, including caring for herself or her child.
Although there are no single depression causes that can be blamed for this postpartum mood disorder every time it occurs, emotional problems are more likely to occur in new moms who struggled with depression before becoming pregnant, those who did not plan the pregnancy, or those women who are without a partner.
The physical changes that take place after having a child can also help cause depression. It can be quite a shock for a new mom to get back from the hospital only to realize that her body has undergone yet another change, rather than reverting to her pre-pregnancy physique. Stretch marks, saggy or wrinkled skin, and lack of muscle tone are just the tip of the iceberg when we consider the physical changes of childbirth.
Hormonal and bio-chemical changes occur in the body after childbirth and the levels of estrogen, progesterone, and cortisol can fluctuate dramatically, affecting a new mom’s mood and energy levels. They can also make it difficult to lose weight soon after having the baby, which can lead to negative emotions, thus increasing her chances of developing postnatal depression.
The physical aches and pains that a new mother must deal with, such as headaches, bone or muscle aches, and especially the healing time associated with an abnormal delivery or even a caesarian section can result in decreased energy levels which can have an impact on the body’s biochemical levels.
Having to go back to work or caring for other children and a spouse can easily lead to enhanced stress levels. Many women have a tendency to put too much stress on themselves, usually due to the belief that everyone expects them to keep up with normal tasks in addition to caring for a new baby. These women may be reluctant to ask for help from their partner, relatives, or friends because they believe it would be an admittance of failure.
Financial stress can be another major factor in the cause behind postpartum depression. It can be a bit of a shock to realize just how expensive diapers, clothing, formula, and food are. These extra costs can soon add up and lead to very little spare money (or even the development of debt). Conflicts in a marriage or other relationships, or difficulties with siblings (such as jealousy) can also lead to excess stress and feelings of depression.
Many women are told to expect a short period where mood swings, crying spells, and fatigue occur directly after the baby is born. This two to three week period of emotional and physical mayhem is known as the baby blues and is often related to the rapid change in hormones during the first few weeks after childbirth. This disorder is fairly common and is said to affect about 80 percent of new moms. Postpartum depression, which is a disorder that affects about 20 percent of new moms, can have a profound impact on the mother and baby’s quality of life.
Take care of yourself through the first days after delivery and learn how to cope with some of the physical and emotional changes which usually occur after delivery.
The health information in this website is for educational purposes only and is not providing medical or professional advice. It should not be used for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease. It is not a substitute for professional medical care. If you have or suspect you might have any health problems, you should consult a physician.
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"No mother has to suffer from PPD needlessly. This is a fact. But until you know what you're up against, you'll still be trapped - without knowing why! A typical example is the common misconception that depression is "all just in the mind." Your first step is to keep an open mind; and allow Laura to take you by the hand and guide you step by step through the PPD universe. Using a "wellness" approach, and with her usual friendly and informative style, trust me, she can help you help yourself getting out of the rut - naturally - in no time."
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Sydney Z. Spiesel, Ph DMD Clinical Professor of Pediatrics, Yale University School of Medicine
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