New Moms · February 27, 2022 0

Why Does Postpartum Depression Happen?

Pregnancy is likely the happiest time of a woman’s life. However, sometimes, things don’t seem bright and sunny by the time it’s over. That’s because postpartum depression strikes many mothers after the baby is born. The question that arises is why does postpartum depression happen?

Hormonal changes after birth can cause your emotions to go awry. Because these feelings are different from when you were pregnant, you may be tempted to dismiss them as “baby blues.” They are, however, not to be ignored.

It is important to know that any numb feelings or lack of joy in life right now can be signs of postpartum depression, an illness that affects many women following the birth of a child.

We’ll tell you more about the symptoms, risks for postpartum depression, and how it can affect your relationship with your new baby and partner.

Why Does Postpartum Depression Happen?
Why Does Postpartum Depression Happen?

Symptoms of Postpartum Depression

Postpartum depression is a debilitating and painful illness. It can affect your day-to-day life and leave you feeling hopeless, helpless, and alone. It is important to remember that you’re not alone. What you’re going through is normal, and you deserve high-quality care and support.

PPD has many symptoms. Some women have only a few, while others have many. Acute postpartum symptoms can develop gradually or suddenly.

  • Depressed mood or severe mood swings
  • Excessive crying
  • Difficulty bonding with your baby
  • Withdrawing from family and friends
  • Loss of appetite or eating much more than usual
  • Inability to sleep (insomnia) or sleeping too much
  • Overwhelming fatigue or loss of energy
  • Reduced interest and pleasure in activities you used to enjoy
  • Intense irritability and anger
  • Fear that you’re not a good mother
  • Feelings of worthlessness, shame, guilt, or inadequacy
  • Diminished ability to think clearly, concentrate or make decisions
  • Severe anxiety and panic attacks
  • Thoughts of harming yourself or your baby
  • Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide

What is The Difference Between Postpartum Depression And Baby Blues?

Postpartum depression is not the same as postpartum baby blues. In fact, it’s usually much more severe and long-lasting than baby blues. Baby blues typically begin shortly after birth and last a few days to a week. If a new mother’s symptoms are more severe or last longer than that, she may have postpartum depression.

 Postpartum Depression And Baby Blues
Postpartum Depression vs Baby Blues

Postpartum depression is a mood disorder that can affect women after childbirth. Mothers with postpartum depression experience feelings of extreme sadness, anxiety, and exhaustion that may make it difficult for them to complete daily care activities for themselves or for others.

Why Does Postpartum Depression Happen?

When you have a child, your life changes! Every parent knows this; unfortunately, for many new parents, life has not only changed but has come to a screeching halt!

Postpartum depression is not a novel condition. Since Mesopotamian times, when the fourth book of Gilgamesh mentions the mother-in-role law’s in postnatal support, it has been reported. However, postnatal depression was dubbed “The List Heartburn” back then, and it was largely blamed on the overly involved mother-in-law.

Today, this condition is now known as Postpartum Depression (PPD). It is regarded as a severe problem that affects up to 20% of pregnant women – though this figure could be much higher due to underreporting, fewer reported cases or a lack of awareness about this terrible illness.

The underlying causes of this condition are unknown. Nonetheless, many theories surrounding it have been identified as possible risk factors for PPD, such as hormonal changes after delivery, low self-esteem, and financial strains. However, no one knows why this happens to some people.

Here are some of the common reasons given for postpartum depression:

1. Hormonal changes can cause postpartum depression.

Yes, hormonal changes can contribute to postpartum depression. Hormonal changes during pregnancy and immediately following delivery (postpartum) can impact your mood, motivation, and energy levels. Estrogen, progesterone, prolactin, thyroid hormone, and cortisol are all hormones. These hormones change dramatically during pregnancy and after birth. They drop very quickly after delivery.

In the first 3 days after birth, the hormone estrogen drops by 70%, progesterone drops by 90%, thyroid hormone drops by 50%, prolactin drops by 30%, and cortisol rise 100%.

This quick change in hormones can affect brain chemicals called neurotransmitters that regulate mood, sleep, appetite, concentration, memory, and sense of well-being.

See this John Hopkins study on the impact of hormonal levels on mood disorder.

2. Sleep deprivation can cause PPD.

New parents know that sleep deprivation is inevitable for having a newborn. Unfortunately, it often goes underrecognized to contribute to other health problems. A Harvard study found that PPD may be linked to lack of sleep, especially when it comes to REM sleep, which is essential for maintaining mood balance.

2. Sleep deprivation can cause PPD.
2. Sleep deprivation can cause PPD.

A recent study examined whether there was a relationship between sleep deprivation and PPD in new mothers in South Korea. In this case, sleep deprivation was defined as less than six hours per night, which was significantly lower than the recommended amount of sleep for adult women.

The study covered four nights per week. Fewer than six hours a night for some women (group A). Others slept for less than four hours (group B). Group C was the last to sleep less than six to eight hours per night.

Women in group A were three times more likely to have PPD than women in group C. Women in group B had seven times the risk of PPD as women in group C.

The researchers suggested that sleep deprivation may contribute to an imbalance in the neurotransmitters norepinephrine and serotonin, which are sleep-wake cycle regulators.

3. Lack of support is a major cause of postpartum depression.

Let’s be honest here. Most postpartum depression and baby blues cases are entirely normal. The fact that women don’t speak up about their condition has led to many women suffering in silence. The most prominent reason people don’t express their feelings is that they feel they do not have their family, friends, and workplace support.

4. Anxiety can cause PPD.

Anxiety is normal after childbirth, especially as you adjust to your new life. But severe anxiety can impair a woman’s ability to care for herself or her child. Anxiety before or during pregnancy increases the risk of PPD. A difficult pregnancy with complications like gestational diabetes or premature birth may increase your risk of PPD.

The good news is that treating your anxiety can also help treat your depression. Here are some steps to consider:

Medication: Antidepressants can help reduce the symptoms of PPD and make it easier to go about your day.

Therapy: Talking through how you feel with a therapist can help you cope with PPD, as well as any other mental health conditions. A therapist can also help you learn coping techniques to manage anxiety when it arises.

5. Traumatic birth experiences can lead to post pregnancy depression.

If you had a traumatic birth experience due to cesarean section or complications during delivery, you might be at risk for post-pregnancy depression.

A study by the University of Michigan has found that traumatic experiences in childbirth are linked to greater feelings of depression, anxiety, and stress post-delivery.

Researchers also found that women who were more likely to report higher levels of depression and anxiety after birth included those with lower incomes, those who recently moved house, and those who had not received any pre-birth education classes.

6. Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) can increase the risk of PPD.

Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) can increase the risk of PPD. PMDD is a severe form of PMS that only affects 3 to 8 percent of women. During PMDD, you may experience severe symptoms like depression and anxiety in a week or two before your period starts. These symptoms generally go away once your period begins.

If you’ve been diagnosed with PMDD and you’re pregnant, you may be more likely to develop PPD because of hormonal changes during pregnancy and after childbirth.

7. A history of mental health issues increases the risk of postpartum depression and other mood disorders.

The risk of developing a mood disorder varies from person to person. Women who have had no past history of depression or other mood disorders are low risk of developing postpartum depression.

Women who have had one episode of depression in their lifetime are at an increased risk of developing postpartum depression. If you have a personal or family history of mental health issues, you should take extra precautions to prepare for birth and motherhood.

Your OB-GYN or midwife can conduct a prenatal screening for past diagnoses or symptoms. You can also speak with them about whether you will be able to breastfeed your baby if you have a history of mental illness.

8. Relationship problems can increase the risk of PPD.

A new study has found that pregnant women who experience a lot of stress from their relationships are at an increased risk of developing postpartum depression.

The study looked at 126 pregnant women and considered how much stress the women experienced regarding their relationship and whether they were prone to anxiety or depression.

The researchers found no link between prenatal stress and postpartum depression. However, the researchers found a link between postpartum depression and a woman’s reported stress level and emotional state during pregnancy.

The findings suggest that helping pregnant women with their relationships may help them prevent postpartum depression, said lead researcher Katie Witkiewitz, an associate professor of psychology at the University of New Mexico.

9. The stress of caring for a newborn adds to the risk of post baby depression.

New parents are often surprised by how hard it is to care for a newborn. From the lack of sleep to the constant responsibility of caring for a tiny human, becoming a parent can be one of the most stressful experiences you’ve ever had. And that stress can add to the risk of postpartum depression.

In a new study, women who experienced higher stress levels after giving birth were more likely to develop postpartum depression.

There are many potential causes of PPD, and each woman’s experience will be unique to her situation and her body’s response to it.

How Do You Treat Postpartum Depression?

Postpartum depression is an actual medical condition. It can happen whether or not you want your baby, were happy about being pregnant, had problems during your pregnancy, or have other children already. It can happen even if everything goes well during your pregnancy and delivery.

Treatment will likely include counseling and antidepressants.

Talk to your doctor immediately if you think you or someone you know might have postpartum depression. Postpartum depression can be hard on both the mother and the baby if untreated.

Treatment options for postpartum depression include:

  • Counseling or talk therapy
  • Antidepressant medication

Risk Factors If Postpartum Depression Is Untreated

Risk of Suicide

The risk of suicide, infanticide, and child neglect are real if a new mother is not treated for postpartum depression, according to Cleveland Clinic. Untreated postpartum depression can result in long-term damage for both mother and child.

Bonding Difficulties and Developmental Issues

A mother suffering from postpartum depression may not bond with her child, which can lead to developmental issues as the child grows older. A depressed mother may not elicit a smile from her baby or play and interact with him, essential developmental milestones during infancy. Depressed mothers may also neglect their infants and fail to provide proper care.


Some women suffering from postpartum depression will self-medicate by abusing alcohol or drugs. This can have severe consequences for the mother’s long-term health and well-being and that of her infant. Women who engage in this type of risky behavior increase their chances of experiencing severe anxiety, panic attacks, and even suicide attempts later on in life.

Postpartum Psychosis

In some cases, untreated postpartum depression can lead to an even more severe form of maternal mental illness known as postpartum psychosis. According to the Postpartum Support International website, this condition is extremely rare but can occur.

Conclusion – Why Does Postpartum Depression Happen?

If you are struggling with postpartum depression or baby blues after giving birth, then don’t think that you’re alone. You may have noticed that some of your friends and acquaintances seem to be on a natural high after giving birth. This high is caused by the hormone oxytocin, which is released from the pituitary gland when a woman experiences birth.

If a woman does not have an increase in this hormone during labor, she may experience depression or sadness for weeks or months after childbirth. So don’t feel bad if you’re suffering from postpartum depression or baby blues. There are medications and treatments available to assist you in coping with these emotions. Seek help right away so you can get back to being “you.”

You cannot copy our content!