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Why Do Mothers Experience Postpartum Depression?

My Doctor Finder
December 29, 2021

After giving birth, a mother's body experiences physical changes. After delivery, they may experience lochia (discharge), breast engorgement, perineal discomfort, and constipation. The birth of a child can elicit a wide range of intense emotions, from joy and excitement to dread and anxiety. However, it can also lead to something unexpected: depression.

After childbirth, most new mothers have postpartum "baby blues," which includes mood changes, crying episodes, anxiety, and problems sleeping. The baby blues usually start two to three days after delivery and can linger for two weeks.

However, some new mothers suffer from postpartum depression, a more severe and long-lasting form of depression. After childbirth, an intense mental illness known as postpartum psychosis may occur.

What is postpartum depression?

Postpartum depression is caused by a combination of hormonal changes, psychological change to parenting, and tiredness after a woman gives birth. If a mother suffers from postpartum depression, getting therapy as soon as possible might help her manage her symptoms and bond with her baby. During this period, a mother requires even more compassion and understanding from those around her.

RELATED: Depression Symptoms You Need to Know

Signs and Symptoms of Postpartum Depression

Depression after childbirth shows itself in a variety of ways, ranging from moderate to severe.

Between “baby blues” and postpartum depression, the latter has lasting and more severe signs and symptoms. They can interfere with your ability to care for your infant and perform other everyday duties. Symptoms normally appear within the first several weeks after delivery, although they might appear earlier in pregnancy or later — up to a year later.

Some signs and symptoms of postpartum depression include:

  • Uncontrollable crying
  • Appetite loss or overeating
  • Inability to sleep (insomnia) or sleeping too much
  • Fear that you're not a good mother
  • Reduced interest and pleasure in activities you used to like
  • Hopelessness
  • Feelings of inadequacy, shame, remorse, or worthlessness
  • Deteriorated ability to think, concentrate, or decide
  • Restlessness
  • Severe anxiety and panic attacks
  • Suicidal or self-harming thoughts
  • Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide

Postpartum depression can linger for months, even years if left untreated.

Causes of Postpartum Depression