Post-partum depression: causes and definition

La dépression du post-partum : causes et définition

The post-partum depressionis a condition that occurs 2 to 8 weeks after childbirth, and can last 6 months to a year.

Unlike the baby blueswhich affects a large number of women, post-partum depression occurs in 10% to 15% of women in France who have given birth, and will develop more severely over time, requiring specific treatment. Post-partum depression can also develop as a continuation of the baby blues.

Women who have already suffered from depression or high anxiety levels are at greater risk of developing post-partum depression, although it can affect any mother.

What's more, women often find it hard to seek help, and tend to isolate themselves because they feel guilty for feeling this way when they thought they'd feel happiness at the birth of their baby, especially if the baby was wanted. They feel like bad mothers. Sometimes they also blame it on fatigue. Many suffer from this pathology without having spoken to the medical profession.

However, it is important to recognize this pathology so as to be able to treat it as quickly as possible and create early interactions with your baby under the right conditions.

What are the symptoms of post-partum depression?

The symptoms of post-partum depression are well-known and numerous. They are often similar to any other depression, except that they are more associated with the baby. They can include

  • Intense, long-lasting sadness
  • Feeling of ineffectiveness
  • Loss of interest in everyday activities
  • Intense, constant fatigue
  • Severe sleep disorders and insomnia
  • Psychomotor slowdown (difficulty thinking and concentrating, reduced alertness, memory lapses, difficulty following or participating in a conversation, difficulty taking action, etc.)
  • Loss of appetite
  • Constant desire to cry
  • Mental exhaustion
  • Lack of joy
  • Isolation
  • Altered perception of self and others
  • Feeling of incompetence, failure, powerlessness and inadequacy
  • Sense of discouragement
  • Guilt
  • Fear of hurting the baby
  • Anxiety
  • Little/excessive interest in self or baby
  • Major mood swings
  • Suicidal thoughts

To be able to speak of post-partum depression, the woman must experience at least two symptoms, and these must be permanent in duration, impacting on her daily life after the baby's birth. That's why it's called an illness.

What causes post-partum depression?

Several factors could be at the root of post-partum depression. These include

  • Psychological factors: stress may arise following childbirth, due to the new reality of having a child and/or becoming a mother.
  • Hormonal changes: throughout pregnancy, hormones "play" with a woman's body. After childbirth, the body undergoes a further hormonal change, which may contribute to this mood disorder.
  • The "empty stomach" sensation after childbirth
  • difficult psychological conditions: loneliness, marital conflicts, insufficient or inadequate marital support, lack of family and social support
  • Psychological and physical exhaustion
  • Family history of post-partum depression
  • Personal history of depression
  • Difficult childbirth
  • Health problems
  • Breastfeedingdifficulties,etc.

In any case, if you're feeling unwell after giving birth, or if you'd like to talk about it, don't hesitate to talk to a health professional!

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The information contained in the articles on is general information only. Although reviewed by health professionals, this information is not error-free, does not constitute health advice or consultation, and is not intended to provide a diagnosis or suggest a course of treatment. Under no circumstances may this information be used as a substitute for medical advice or consultation with a healthcare professional. If you have any questions, please consult your doctor.