What Causes Postpartum Depression?

By  , Expert Content
Feb 27, 2012

What Causes Postpartum DepressionThe exact cause of postpartum depression (PPD) is not known but several factors are considered to contribute to development of postpartum depression. Factors which possibly influence PPD include physical, emotional, lifestyle and genetic factors.


  • Physical changes: The dramatic change in hormones in your body like decrease in levels of estrogen and progesterone possibly contribute to postpartum depression. Changes in other hormones especially thyroid hormone levels also may drop sharply which can make you feel tired, sluggish and depressed. Other physical changes after childbirth such as decrease of blood volume, changes of blood pressure, immune system and metabolism can also increase the stress level in your body which can possibly contribute to fatigue and mood swings.
  • Emotional factors: When tired and sleep deprived handling even minor problems can seem overwhelming. The anxiety about the new baby and doubts if you can care for the baby can make you nervous and edgy. Besides the baby, the physical changes may make you feel less attractive and the adjustment with your spouse can make you concerned. Any or all these factors can add to make you feel that you've lost control over your life and lead to symptoms of postpartum depression.
  • Lifestyle influences: Lifestyle factors which can contribute to postpartum depression are lack of family support or support from your partner, financial problems, fatigue and exhaustion, difficulty in breast-feeding.
  • Genetic factors: Besides all this probably genetic factors also influence the risk of postpartum depression. It is not known if hereditary factors that increase a woman's risk of postpartum depression are different or same as those that increase the risk of depression.


A combination of the above mentioned factors probably leads to postpartum depression in a woman after childbirth.


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