Postpartum Depression | Causes & Risk Factors

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Why do women get postpartum depression?

The exact cause isn't known. Hormone levels change during pregnancy and right after childbirth. Those hormone changes may produce chemical changes in the brain that play a part in causing depression.

Feeling depressed doesn't mean that you are a bad person, that you did something wrong or that you brought this on yourself.

Who gets postpartum depression?

Postpartum depression is more likely if you have had any of the following:

  • Previous postpartum depression
  • Depression not related to pregnancy
  • Severe premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
  • A difficult or very stressful marriage or relationship
  • Few family members or friends to talk to or depend on
  • Stressful life events during pregnancy or after childbirth (such as as severe illness during pregnancy, premature birth or a difficult delivery)

Source

Postpartum Major Depression: Detection and Treatment by C. Neill Epperson, M.D. (American Family Physician April 15, 1999, http://www.aafp.org/afp/990415ap/2247.html)

Written by familydoctor.org editorial staff

Reviewed/Updated: 04/14
Created: 09/00

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