Causes of postpartum depression cannot be isolated.
Post Partum depression is a form of clinical depression experienced by women following pregnancy. It is differentiated from the frequent experience of the “baby blues” by its tendency to last a month or more after the end of pregnancy and by the severity of its symptoms.
The exact causes of postpartum depression cannot be isolated. Many researchers believe that the condition is spurred by a combination of factors including genetic traits and hormonal shifts in the body. Even though we may not know exactly what causes postpartum depression, recent research has evaluated a number of factors that tend to help in predicting a subsequent case of illness.
Note that these are indicators, or predictors, not causes. Their relationship with Post Partum depression is a matter of correlation, not causation. Nonetheless, they do give us an idea of who is most likely to experience the problem.
One of the strongest predictors is experiencing depression during pregnancy. Other statistically significant indicators include a measurably low sense of self-esteem, having experienced prenatal anxiety, and suffering from other significant life stressors.
This could lead one to conclude that Post Partum depression is most likely to affect those who are already candidates for a depressive disorder or who are already manifesting some of depression’s symptoms.
Other predictors of Post Partum depression include a lack of social support and a poor marital relationship, providing some reason to consider that the nature of one’s life is a key factor. That possibility seems even more likely when one notes that research has also flagged a low socioeconomic status and being a single parent as indicators of Post Partum depression.
Does this mean that everyone with a history of mental illness who happens to be poor and/or single will invariably experience some depression after childbirth? Not at all. Again, these are only predictors – their exact relationship to the illness is impossible to discern. What can be understood, however, is that these traits seem to be present in women who experience a severe and intensified version of the “baby blues?”
Thus, any pregnant person who sees her current situation as being consistent with those predictors may want to learn more about postnatal depression and how to deal with it effectively. There is some chance that the disorder will never appear, but a life consistent with the predictors is more likely to attract the condition and preparation can help.
In time, the exact causes of the illness may be understood. That would certainly lead to superior treatment methods. Right now, however, we are left with an understanding that many women to experience the condition and that individuals exhibiting certain tendencies and life features are more likely to suffer from it. That evidence may not unlock the secrets of the disease, but it does give us some valuable information to evaluate when considering who is likely to suffer from PPD.