Postpartum Depression

Definition

Postpartum depression is a type of depression that affects some women shortly after childbirth. It is not uncommon for women to experience temporary mood disorders after giving birth. If it goes on for more than 2 weeks, it is called postpartum depression.

Causes

The cause of postpartum depression is unclear. The cause may be related to sudden hormonal changes during and after delivery. Untreated thyroid conditions may also be associated with postpartum depression.

Risk Factors

Factors that may increase your chance of postpartum depression:
  • Previous episodes of depression or postpartum depression
  • History of anxiety disorder
  • Family members with depression
  • Lack of support system and/or strained relationship with partner
  • Difficulty with breastfeeding
Central Nervous System
Female brain nerves torso
Hormonal changes in the brain may contribute to postpartum depression.
Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

Symptoms

Symptoms usually occur within 6 months after childbirth, though they may begin during the pregnancy and may last from a few weeks to a few months. It most often started within the first few weeks after childbirth. Symptoms may range from mild depression to severe psychosis.Symptoms may include:
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in life
  • Change in weight or appetite
  • Rapid mood swings
  • Poor concentration, memory loss, difficulty making decisions
  • Insomnia
  • Sleeping too much
  • Feelings of irritability, anxiety, or panic
  • Restlessness
  • Feelings of hopelessness or guilt
  • Obsessive thoughts, especially unreasonable, repetitive fears about your child’s health and welfare
  • Lack of energy or motivation
  • Thoughts or death or suicide
More serious symptoms associated with postpartum depression that may require immediate medical attention include:
  • Lack of interest in your infant
  • Fear of hurting or killing oneself or one's child
  • Hallucinations or delusions
  • Loss of contact with reality

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