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Causes postpartum depression

The exact cause of postpartum depression is still unknown but hormone imbalance is widely thought to be the cause. Estrogen and progesterone levels, which increase tenfold during pregnancy to accommodate the growing fetus, suddenly drop quickly and dramatically within 24 hours after delivery. The dramatic decrease in estrogen and progesterone level may trigger depression.

Thyroid levels may also fall dramatically after delivery. A low level of thyroid can cause mood swings, severe agitation, fatigue, insomnia, and anxiety. Simple thyroid tests can determine if this condition is causing a woman's postpartum depression.

Aside from biological changes, a variety of physical, psychological, and environmental factors can lead to postpartum depression.

  • Physical changes after delivery
    • Many changes occur after delivery, including changes in muscle tone and obesity.
    • Soreness and pain in perineal area.
  • Psychological changes after delivery
    • Feeling trapped indoors for long periods of time, and having less time with their partner.
    • Feeling less attractive physically and sexually.
    • Feeling overbearing with the responsibilities of motherhood.
    • Feeling stress from changes in work and home routines.
    • Feeling fatigue and tired because of irregular sleep patterns.
    • Free time is suddenly restricted.
  • Other known risk factors
    • Mental illness before pregnancy.
    • Other family members with postpartum depression.
    • Having postpartum mental disorder during an earlier delivery.
    • Conflict with husband.
    • Loss of job employment.
    • Received minimal support from friends and family.
    • Miscarriage or stillbirth.


Here are some symptoms of postpartum depression:

  • Loss of pleasure in daily life.
  • Insomnia.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Less energy and motivation to do things.
  • Increased crying or tearfulness.
  • Feeling worthless, hopeless or overly guilty.
  • Feeling restless, irritable or anxious.
  • Appetite change.
  • Poor concentration.
  • Having thoughts about hurting yourself.
  • Worrying about hurting your baby.


Prevalence and incidence statistics for postpartum depression:

  • Prevalance of postpartum depression: 10% of pregnancies.
  • Prevalance rate: approx 1 in 679 or 0.15% or 400,000 people in USA.
  • Prevalance of postpartum depression: roughly 10% of pregnancies result in postpartum depression, which can occur a few days or even months after delivery.