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Postpartum Depression

Causes of Postpartum Depression

While mood changes are common in women during and immediately following pregnancy—including feelings of irritation, anxiety and restlessness, which researchers have linked to changes in hormone levels—these “baby blues” tend to go away on their own in a week or two. However, if these symptoms of depression do not recede or they begin a month or more after childbirth, this is known as postpartum depression.

Risk factors that correlate with a higher chance of postpartum depression in women include if they:

  • Are under the age of 20
  • Abuse alcohol, use illegal drugs or smoke cigarettes
  • Did not plan or had mixed feelings about the pregnancy
  • Have a history of depression, bipolar disorder or an anxiety disorder, either before the pregnancy or with a previous one
  • Had a stressful event during the pregnancy or delivery, such as a personal illness, the death or illness of a loved one, a difficult or emergency delivery, or an illness or birth defect in the baby
  • Are closely related to someone who has had depression or anxiety
  • Are single or have a poor relationship with their significant other
  • Have financial problems
  • Have little support from their family, friends or partner