Postpartum Depression

By Kayli Nichols Psy 221

What is Postpartum Depression?

Postpartum Depression is an extremely common disorder that occurs within women throughout the world. Approximately 10%-15% of new mothers experience this severe mood disturbance (Boyd & Bee, 2015). Women who suffer from this disorder usually experience extreme sadness in the weeks after childbirth.

Warning Signs and Common Symptoms

The biggest warning sign at predicting postpartum depression is depression that occurs during pregnancy. Therefore, many cases of PPD can probably be prevented by training health professionals to recognize depression in pregnant women (Boyd & Bee, 2015).

Many women seem dis-interested in activities of any sort. They may feel useless, restless, agitated, extremely sad or upset, and lethargic.

Risk Factors

There are various contributing factors that increase risk for developing this disorder. For example, "The presence of major life stressors during pregnancy or immediately after the baby's birth- such as a move to a new home, the death of someone close, or job loss- increases the risk of PPD" (Boyd & Bee, 2015).

Risk factors include: a history of mood disorders, substance abuse problems or history of alcohol dependence, maternal depression from a previous pregnancy, depression or family history of depression, life stress, poor marital relationships, low social status, lack of social support or absence of a community network, and unplanned or unwanted pregnancy (Nihcm, 2010).

Treatment Options

Various treatment options include extremely low doses of anti-depressants. In addition, some women do well in treatment using hormonal therapies, and even psychotherapy.

Heredity and Environmental Roles

Many researchers believe that genetics and the environment play a significant role in the development of Postpartum Depression. For example, "Individuals who carry the more reactive marker might respond to environmental conditions for better and for worse" (Brooks-Gunn, 2011). Women who have the reactive marker were more likely to be positive in positive environments and upset during upsetting environments.

Effects on the Family

Postpartum depression can take a toll on all members of the family as well. The family can erupt in fights, causing tension and conflict. Many family members do not know what actions to take, which can lead to large amounts of stress and potential for separation. Therefore, it is extremely wise to seek help if there is any indication of depression during or after pregnancy.
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Boyd, D., & Bee, H. (2015). Lifespan development (Seventh ed.). Up Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.

Brooks-Gunn, J. (2011, June 20). Study Suggests a Genetic Predisposition to Post-Partum Depression. Retrieved from

Identifying and Treating Maternal Depression: Strategies & Considerations for Health Plans. (2010, June 1). Retrieved from