Postpartum Depression – Symptoms, Causes and Treatment

Postpartum Depression

If you experience any postnatal or postpartum depression symptoms please seek medical advice immediately. Postnatal depression and anxiety are treatable with professional help.

The following post is a general guide to PND and should not be taken as medical advice which is required for PND.

What is Postpartum Depression?

Many women suffer from postnatal depression (PND). Unfortunately unlike some medical illnesses where you can take medicine to help alleviate or eliminate the illness in the short term; the process of acknowledging, diagnosing, receiving treatment, and then recovering from postnatal depression can take a long period of time.

What is of utmost importance is that you seek professional advice starting with your doctor who can then refer you onto a specialist.

How Common is PND?

According to the National Institutes of Mental Health, studies show that the childbearing years are when a woman is most likely to experience depression in her lifetime and approximately 15% of all women will experience postnatal depression following the birth of a child.

Listen to This Informative Podcast on PND

Symptoms of Postnatal Depression

The following Symptoms of PND can occur any time in the first year postnatal:

1. Low self-esteem

2. Guilt

3. Exhaustion

4. Emptiness

5. Sadness

6. Hopelessness

7. Anxiety

8. A feeling of being overwhelmed.

9. Sleep and eating disturbances.

10. Inability to be comforted.

11. Being unable to experience pleasure from activities usually found enjoyable.

12. Social withdrawal.

13. Little or no energy.

14. Becoming easily frustrated.

15. Feeling inadequate in taking care of the baby.

The potential causes of PND are often listed as hormonal changes, genetics, and major life events but this is not conclusive.

Evidence suggests that hormonal changes may play a role. Hormones which have been studied include thyroid hormone, testosterone, estrogen, progesterone, corticotropin releasing hormone, and cortisol.

Postnatal depression

Risk Factors For Postnatal Depression

There have been a number of factors suggested to increase the risk of PND:
1. Reduced self-esteem.
2. Childcare or life stress.
3. Low social support.
4. Prenatal depression or anxiety.
5. A personal or family history of depression
6. Moderate to severe premenstrual symptoms.
7. Maternity blues.
8. Previous stillbirth or miscarriage.
9. Formula-feeding rather than breast-feeding.
10. Cigarette smoking.
11. Poor marital relationship or single marital status.
12. Low socioeconomic status.
13. Infant temperament problems/colic.
14. Unplanned pregnancy.
15. Elevated prolactin levels.
16. Oxytocin depletion.
17. Birth-related psychological trauma.
18. Birth-related physical trauma.

Treatment for Postnatal Depression

There is a variety of treatment options available for PND and your treating medical health care provider will help you out here. Treatment may include one or a combination of therapies such as non-pharmacologic therapy or medication.

PANDA – Perinatal Anxiety & Depression Australia

PANDA supports women, men and families across Australia affected by anxiety and depression during pregnancy and early parenthood.

PANDA operates Australia’s only National Helpline for individuals and their families to recover from perinatal anxiety and depression, a serious illness that affects up to one in five expecting or new mums and one in ten expecting or new dads.


Kerryn Boyle
Kerryn Boyle
Kerryn is a Prenatal Exercise Instructor. Kerryn’s areas of expertise includes providing women with safe at-home pregnancy workouts and postpartum workouts. From pregnancy yoga classes to week by week, it's all right here.

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