The Concept of Postpartum Depression


The prevalence of postpartum depression is quite high as one in seven new American mothers develops this health issue. The illness is associated with such symptoms as anxiety, eating disorders, insomnia, and fatigue. The factors contributing to the development of the disease are divided into three categories: biological, psychological, and social. The type of treatment chosen to help patients often depends on the cause and severity of the health condition under analysis. This paper concentrates on the causes, symptoms, and treatment of postpartum depression.

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Postpartum depression is a common health issue that has adverse effects on the well-being of women, as well as the development of their child. It has been estimated that approximately 13% of new mothers have the disorder that has quite a considerable morbidity and can be associated with complications (Gaillard, Le Strat, Mandelbrot, Keïta, & Dubertret, 2014). Researchers have identified various factors that contribute to the prevalence of this malady. Many women who are affected after they give birth can cope with this malady, but professional care provided in a timely manner minimizes the adverse impact of postpartum depression. This paper includes a brief analysis of the health concern under consideration, its causes, symptoms, and treatment.

Postpartum Depression and Its Symptoms

Postpartum depression is a type of postpartum disorder that has received the most attention in academia. This health condition usually develops four weeks after childbirth and is linked to poor emotional and psychological well-being of the mother as well as impaired behavioral, cognitive, and emotional development of the child (Gaillard et al., 2014). Kendall-Tackett (2016) states that the long-term effects of maternal postpartum depression are quite severe as such children often have psychiatric problems in adulthood. The most common symptoms of the illness under analysis include insomnia, fatigue, eating disorders, the loss of concentration, tears shading, gloom, anxiety, and the loss of interest in things that were previously liked.

Major Causes of the Disease

Researchers point at biological, psychological, and social causes of postpartum depression in women. As far as the biological factors associated with the malady in question are concerned, these include genetic predisposition, inflammatory processes, and “hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal dysregulation” (Yim, Tanner Stapleton, Guardino, Hahn-Holbrook, & Dunkel Schetter, 2015, p. 99). Brummelte and Galea (2016) note that the structure of the brain is also related to the occurrence of the disorder. Furthermore, women who had depression during pregnancy are also more likely to develop postpartum depression.

Interestingly, it has been found that women who had complications during pregnancy were less likely to develop postpartum depression after giving birth (“Heterogeneity of postpartum depression,” 2015). The psychological causes of the health issue under study include fatigue and anxiety associated with childrearing. As for social factors affecting the development of the illness, the lack of support (from the partner or family) and financial constraints often lead to postpartum depression occurrence.

Postpartum Depression Treatment

The impact of the health condition on the health of the mother and child has been acknowledged recently. This led to the inclusion of the screening and some types of treatment of postpartum disorders in Medicaid plans in some states (Kendall-Tackett, 2016). However, many women still have to cope with this problem on their own. It is noteworthy that many researchers and professionals from different fields collaborate to develop methods of screening and treating postpartum depression. The work on a mobile application aimed at diagnosing the illness is one of the examples of this effort (Belluck, 2016). The treatment of the disease may include, the provision of some medications and psychotherapy, as well as a combination of the two.

Antidepressants are common drugs that are utilized to treat the disorder (Gaillard et al., 2014). These are seen as safe and effective medications that do not lead to habit-forming. Although some side effects exist, such as headaches, blurred vision, dizziness, sexual issues, and insomnia, antidepressants are widely used. In severe cases, medications are an indispensable part of treatment while milder cases are mainly treated with the help of psychotherapy. The choice of the treatment pattern also depends on the causes of the disease. In case biological factors prevail, medications are employed, but psychologically-induced disorders may be treated with psychotherapy.

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Psychotherapy is a preferable type of treatment among physicians as it is effective and void of side effects. Counseling and support groups are common strategies aimed at helping new mothers cope with their concerns and issues. Kendall-Tackett (2016) claims that patient training is always a part of treatment. Mothers are taught how to address various challenges associated with the changes that have taken place in their lives. Women are also recommended to try such alternatives as yoga, massage, and acupuncture.


On balance, it is necessary to state that postpartum depression is a health condition that affects one in seven American females. This illness tends to have adverse effects on the well-being of the mother and the child. The disease is characterized by such symptoms as fatigue, insomnia, eating disorders, and anxiety. This type of postpartum disorder can be caused by biological, psychological, and social factors.

It is critical to identify the causes of the health concern since the treatment of postpartum depression depends on this data. Medications and psychotherapy are employed to help women cope with the problem. The recent research indicates that postpartum depression is associated with substantial negative outcomes for females as well as children. Therefore, healthcare professionals, policymakers, and individuals (as well as organizations) involved in different spheres collaborate to develop effective strategies to address the issue.

Annotated Bibliography

Brummelte, S., & Galea, L. A. M. (2016). Postpartum depression: Etiology, treatment, and consequences for maternal care. Hormones and Behavior, 77, 153-166. Web.

Brummelte and Galea (2016) provide a thorough description and analysis of postpartum depression, its symptoms, causes, treatment, and the impact it may have on maternal care. The researchers focus on biological factors contributing to the development of the disorder. Brummelte and Galea (2016) note that the primary causes of the illness are the dysregulation of hormones, genetic vulnerability, and the structure of the brain. The use of antidepressants is seen as an effective way to treat the disease, but it should be facilitated by the provision of psychotherapy as well (Brummelte & Galea, 2016). This source is valuable for the present research due to the depth of its analysis of the causes of the disorder.

Heterogeneity of postpartum depression: A latent class analysis. (2015). The Lancet Psychiatry, 2(1), 59-67. Web.

The article highlights the results of a study aimed at the identification of clinical subtypes of the disease. Three types were singled out depending on the severity of the health condition, suicidal ideation, and anxiety levels. It is found that the presence of pregnancy complications was associated with milder symptoms of postpartum depression. This study shows that postpartum depression is a serious health issue that has to be addressed since it can lead to severe psychological problems or even the death of a new mother. This a valuable source as it contains information regarding the major symptoms of the disease and its peculiarities.

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Belluck, P. (2016). Hunting the genetic signs of postpartum depression with an iPhone app. The New York Times. Web.

Brummelte, S., & Galea, L. A. M. (2016). Postpartum depression: Etiology, treatment and consequences for maternal care. Hormones and Behavior, 77, 153-166. Web.

Gaillard, A., Le Strat, Y., Mandelbrot, L., Keïta, H., & Dubertret, C. (2014). Predictors of postpartum depression: Prospective study of 264 women followed during pregnancy and postpartum. Psychiatry Research, 215(2), 341-346. Web.

Heterogeneity of postpartum depression: a latent class analysis. (2015). The Lancet Psychiatry, 2(1), 59-67. Web.

Kendall-Tackett, K. (2016). Depression in new mothers (4th ed.). London, England: Routledge.

Yim, I. S., Tanner Stapleton, L. R., Guardino, C. M., Hahn-Holbrook, J., & Dunkel Schetter, C. (2015). Biological and psychosocial predictors of postpartum depression: Systematic review and call for integration. Annual Review of Clinical Psychology, 11(1), 99-137. Web.

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