Postpartum depression: Causes, treatment, and Symptoms

what is postpartum depression

by Miyakhel ihsan
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Postpartum depression, also known as postnatal depression, is a mood disorder that affects women after childbirth. It is characterized by persistent feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and a loss of interest in daily activities, often hindering a new mother’s ability to care for herself and her baby.

The act of creating a new life is a deep and changing process. But for some women, the postpartum period can be marked by strong emotions and daunting difficulties. Many new mothers are afflicted by postpartum depression (PPD), a prevalent mental health disorder. We will go into the detailed aspects of postpartum depression in this thorough blog post, looking at its symptoms, causes, and treatment choices as well as the significance of getting support at this crucial time.

Related : What is Depression? Causes, Symptoms, Types & Treatment

Symptoms of  postpartum depression

  • Persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness.
  • Frequent crying or tearfulness.
  • Extreme fatigue or exhaustion.
  • Difficulty sleeping or excessive sleep.
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in activities.
  • Changes in appetite or weight.
  • Intense irritability or anger.
  • Difficulty bonding with the baby.
  • Feelings of guilt or worthlessness.
  • Difficulty concentrating or making decisions.
  • Thoughts of harming oneself or the baby.
  • Anxiety or excessive worry.
  • Panic attacks.
  • Feelings of being overwhelmed or unable to cope.
  • Changes in appetite (overeating or loss of appetite).
  • Physical symptoms such as headaches, stomachaches, or muscle tension.
  • Loss of interest in self-care or personal hygiene.
  • Social withdrawal or isolation.
  • Decreased libido or sexual interest.

What are the causes of postpartum depression

1.Hormonal changes:

Significant hormonal changes, including elevated levels of progesterone and estrogen, occur in the body during pregnancy. These hormone levels quickly return to pre-pregnancy levels following childbirth. The neurotransmitters in the brain, such serotonin, which is essential for mood regulation, might be impacted by these hormonal changes. The abrupt drop in hormone levels and the alterations in neurotransmitter function might cause mood swings and raise the likelihood of PPD development.

2.Emotional and psychological factors:

A variety of emotions and difficulties are brought on by pregnancy and childbirth. The stress, anxiety, and anticipation that come with motherhood can affect a woman’s emotional health. Emotional stress can also result from having to adjust to a new role, from identity and relationship changes, and from having to meet the obligations of caring for a newborn. Due to the increased stress and hormonal changes at this time, women who have a history of mental health problems, such as depression or anxiety, may be more susceptible to developing PPD.

Related : Depression symptoms in men: Recognizing signs and seeking help

3.Sleep deprivation: 

Due to the duties of caring for a baby, sleep disruption is a regular occurrence for new mothers. Chronic sleep deprivation can be brought on by frequent feedings, diaper changes, and erratic sleeping habits. The control of mood, cognitive ability, and general well-being can all be significantly impacted by a lack of sufficient sleep. Lack of sleep can worsen emotions of irritation, emotional vulnerabilty, and stress tolerance, which can aid in the emergence of PPD.

4.Personal and family history:

Women with a personal or family history of depression, bipolar disorder, or postpartum depression are at a higher risk of developing PPD. A history of mental health issues may indicate a genetic predisposition or an increased vulnerability to hormonal and emotional changes during the postpartum period. Additionally, factors such as a previous experience of PPD or a family history of PPD can serve as risk factors for developing the condition.

How to treat postpartum depression


1.Therapy and Counseling:

A.Individual therapy:

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and interpersonal therapy (IPT) are commonly used therapeutic approaches for PPD. These therapies help individuals identify and challenge negative thought patterns, develop coping strategies, and improve communication and relationships.

B.Couples or family therapy:

Involving partners or family members in therapy sessions can promote understanding, strengthen support systems, and facilitate healthier communication and bonding.


A. Antidepressant medication:

In some cases, healthcare professionals may prescribe antidepressant medication, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), to help regulate brain chemistry and alleviate depressive symptoms. It is important to discuss potential risks and benefits with a healthcare provider before starting any medication.

3.Support Groups:

Joining support groups specifically tailored for postpartum depression can provide a sense of community, understanding, and validation. Connecting with other women who have experienced or are experiencing PPD can be reassuring and provide valuable insights and coping strategies.

4.Self-Care Practices:

A.Prioritize self-care:

Engage in activities that promote relaxation, self-nurturing, and emotional well-being. This may include taking breaks, engaging in hobbies, practicing mindfulness or meditation, or pursuing physical activities that you enjoy.

B.Maintain a healthy lifestyle:

Ensure you are eating nutritious meals, staying hydrated, getting regular exercise (with healthcare provider approval), and getting sufficient sleep. Establishing a routine can provide structure and stability during this challenging time.

5.Social Support:

A.Seek support from loved ones:

Share your feelings and concerns with trusted family members and friends who can provide emotional support, practical assistance, and a listening ear.

B.Communicate with your partner:

Involve your partner in the process by openly discussing your needs, sharing responsibilities, and seeking their understanding and support.

6.Professional Help:

Consult with healthcare providers: Seek regular check-ups with your healthcare provider to monitor your progress and discuss any concerns. They can offer guidance, monitor your medication (if prescribed), and provide referrals to other specialists if needed.

Source : Postpartum Depression: Causes, Symptoms

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