Postpartum Depression: Causes, Symptoms, And Treatment For PPD

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For many new moms, postpartum depression is not part of the birth plan. Preparing for lack of sleep? Check. Diapers at the ready? Double check. But a general sense of worthlessness, hopelessness, and deeper exhaustion than is manageable? For nearly one-fifth of new moms, these emotions are a surprising new reality.

The good news is, postpartum depression (often shortened to “PPD”) is highly treatable with therapy. Read on to learn about what the possible causes are for PPD, plus symptoms to keep an eye out for. And if you are, or your loved one is, already experiencing symptoms of PPD, learn more about treatment options – and get started by finding a perinatal therapist who can help.

Causes of postpartum depression

There's no single cause to pinpoint for postpartum depression. Rather, research shows that postpartum depression stems from a combination of factors.

Hormonal factors for PPD:  

Situational factors for PPD:

In addition to the above, the perinatal period is also a time when new moms:

On top of all this, many new moms experience a tangible difference between the fantasy and reality of motherhood, all while needing to learn new skills to manage the new demanding role.

When postpartum depression occurs

While this peak risk of 3 months is true for most women, postpartum depression can start days, or even months, after childbirth. Generally speaking, postpartum depression is considered as such if the symptoms occur within the first year after birth.

Between 20 and 25% of mothers with PPD have episodes lasting 6 months or longer.

Prevalence of postpartum depression

One 2013 study estimated between 14 and 21% of women in the perinatal stages experience postpartum depression.

Symptoms of postpartum depression

Postpartum depression may look different in one mom to the next. That said, they often include:

How to treat postpartum depression

Therapy types for PPD

Effective therapy treatment options for postpartum depression include:

Treatment for postpartum depression also includes accessing social support, and following any recommended medical interventions.

Preventative measures help reduce your risk of developing PPD

If possible, be proactive to prevent postpartum depression from taking over full-force. To do this, understand your risk by assessing your psychiatric history – as well as family history of mood disorders.

Higher risk women may also benefit from taking a preventative medication (often an antidepressant).

Cultivate a support group to lower your risk of developing PPD

You can decrease your risk of PPD by mobilizing a support network; this may include:

How to help your partner through PPD

If your partner or loved one has PPD, here's what you can do to help:

How to find a therapist for PPD

It’s most important to find a clinician who you trust and who has experience with perinatal conditions.

For the fastest symptom relief, working with a clinician who specializes in cognitive behavioral therapy or interpersonal psychotherapy may be especially valuable.

It is also helpful to explore your own beliefs about motherhood, and to look at what may be impacting your ability to bond. This can be achieved in individual therapy or in a group setting.

If you’re ready to start your search for a perinatal specialist who can treat postpartum depression, you can do so on Zencare below.