Postpartum Depression: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Postpartum Depression: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Last update: 21 March, 2018

Upon hearing “postpartum depression,” we tend to picture an overwhelmed mother with a crying baby in her arms. But postpartum depression is much more than that.

Postpartum depression is a type of depression that occurs in women just after childbirth, and can last until a year later.

There is also such a thing as male postpartum depression, although there is a lower incidence of this compared to female postpartum depression.

According to studies, up to 25% of women may experience one or more of the characteristic symptoms of postpartum depression.

This tells us that its frequency is fairly high, so it’s worth learning all that we can about it.

Causes of Postpartum Depression

Postpartum depression in women may be a result of several factors. Some of these include:

  • Physical changes. Pregnancy completely transforms a woman’s body. Once you give birth, the reason behind all of these changes is suddenly out of your body, so it is difficult to accept that your body will need some time to recover.
  • Environmental changes. Now you have your child. Your baby demands all of your resources right from the beginning. You’ll see that your social and professional relationships are affected, because you can no longer manage everything.
  • Loss of independence and personal space. The level at which your baby demands your attention far exceeds what you imagined it would be. For a time, you will no longer have your own space.
  • Lack of sleep. The fatigue that accompanies the first months of parenthood is well known. The lack of rest leads to exhaustion which is accompanied by depressive thoughts.
  • The pressure to be a good mother. Letting yourself be influenced by those around you about what you need to do, with your own beliefs added into the mix, can clash with reality. This clash of ideas can be confusing.
  • Related conditions such as depression, bipolar disorder, or anxiety.
  • The use of drugs, alcohol, or other harmful behaviors during pregnancy.
Postpartum Depression: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Focus on recovery in order to give your baby the best version of yourself.

Symptoms of Postpartum Depression

  • Before talking about the symptoms, it’s necessary to clarify that normally the first two weeks after childbirth are full of moments of weeping, anxiety and being overwhelmed. However, postpartum depression brings sadness to another level, causing changes in the mother’s behavior towards her baby:
    • Excessive interest or no interest in the newborn.
    • Fear of being alone with the child.
    • Total lack of care towards herself and the baby.

The following symptoms must be added to these behavioral changes:

  1. Agitation and irritability.
  2. High levels of anxiety.
  3. Trouble sleeping.
  4. Changes in appetite.
  5. Feelings of futility or guilt.
  6. Loss of concentration and energy.
  7. Thoughts of death/suicide.

What can be done to combat postpartum depression?

The most important thing is to know that it’s more common than it seems. Motherhood is difficult. It comes with many changes to which you must adapt quickly, and accepting all of these isn’t easy.

Postpartum Depression: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

If you notice that feelings of sadness during the first two weeks with your newborn baby are lengthened, seek professional help.

Whether in the form of medication or therapy, it will be important to follow the recommendations of a professional.

These tips can also be useful for dealing with postpartum depression:

  • Look to those around you for support. Your partner, your family, and your close friends can help you with chores around the house or with taking care of your baby.
  • Don’t be ashamed of what you’re going through. Don’t hide your feelings or feel guilty about them. You have the right to feel sad and overwhelmed with your situation.
  • Try talking to other mothers about it. Many mothers believe they should be feeling happy and hide what they’re really going through for fear that they’ll be judged.
  • There is no such thing as a perfect mother, but there are good mothers. Focus on recovering so that you can give your baby the best version of yourself. Don’t worry, they’re going to love you no matter what.

Above all, knowing that your child needs you more than anyone else in the world will help you find the inner strength that you need.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Evans, M., Vicuña, M., & Marín, R. (2003). Depresión postparto realidad en el sistema público de atención de salud. Revista chilena de obstetricia y ginecología, 68(6), 491-494.
  • Hasbún Hernández, J., Risco Neira, L., Jadresic Marinovic, E., Galleguillo U, T., González A, M., & Garay S, J. (1999). Depresión postparto: prevalencia y factores de riesgo. In Rev. chil. obstet. ginecol.
  • Medina, E. (2013). Diferencias entre la depresión postparto, la psicosis postparto y la tristeza postparto. Perinatología y Reproductiva Humana.
  • Mendoza, C., & Saldivia, S. (2015). Actualización en depresión postparto: el desafío permanente de optimizar su detección y abordaje. Revista médica de Chile, 143(7), 887-894.
  • Miranda Moreno, M. D., Bonilla García, A. M., & Rodríguez Villar, V. (2015). Depresión Postparto. Trances.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.