Postpartum depression (PPD) is a condition that occurs after childbirth in new mothers (or biological mothers).
Every year, it affects approximately 10-15% of adult mothers. Symptoms such as sadness, emptiness, hopelessness, and worthlessness can last for weeks or months. It can make it difficult for new mothers to care for their babies, as well as cause sleep, appetite, and mood issues. The consequences for children can include behavioral, developmental, socioemotional, and cognitive delays that can last for years after infancy. According to research, an individual’s susceptibility to the development of PPD is linked to the presence or absence of certain genetic changes linked to PPD risk.
Is Depression Inheritable in Everyone?
If your parents suffer from depression, you may be concerned about developing depressive symptoms or developing postpartum depression. Even if you share genes with your parents, it does not mean you will develop depression. Based on your parents’ genetic makeup, very few outcomes are guaranteed.
Furthermore, numerous genes influence one’s risk of depression. Some genes regulate the amount of serotonin produced and the number of serotonin receptors available. The same can be said for every other chemical involved in mood regulation. If you have siblings, take a moment to consider everything you have in common as well as everything that distinguishes you. Although you may require prescription glasses, your sister has perfect vision. This is just one example of how various outcomes can result from the same gene pool.
Postpartum Depression Genetics
Postpartum depression symptoms appear shortly after giving birth. Knowing if postpartum depression is hereditary can help women prepare for the time after their child’s birth. If your mother, sister, aunt, grandmother, cousin, or other family members have reported having postpartum depression, and if they have similar stories, chances are you will be affected as well.
Even if no woman in your family has reported postpartum depression, that doesn’t mean you’re safe. Depression is not solely determined by genetic factors; environmental factors also play a role. For example, a traumatic birth experience may result in postpartum depression. Understand the risk factors and warning signs so you can seek help as soon as possible. The following are risk factors:
- Family history of postpartum depression
- Personal history of depression of any kind
- Events that caused stress during pregnancy
- Breastfeeding problems
- Unwanted pregnancy
- A baby was born with health issues.
- Relationship difficulties with a significant other
- Insufficient support system
- Financial difficulty
Postpartum Depression Symptoms
Knowing how to spot the signs of postpartum depression is critical to getting the help you need as soon as possible. Postpartum depression symptoms can range from mild to severe and may include:
- Bonding with a baby is difficult.
- Social isolation or withdrawal
- Excessive crying
- Anxiety or panic attacks
- suicide thoughts
- Changes in appetite that occur suddenly
- Sudden changes in sleep patterns
- Anger and irritability
- Poor concentration
Postpartum depression affects nearly 15% of all women who give birth and can last for months if left untreated. If you are experiencing symptoms of postpartum depression, know that there is help available and that you are not alone.
Postpartum Depression Quiz
Are you experiencing symptoms typical of women who have been diagnosed with postpartum depression?
Did you know… Dads are affected by postpartum depression as well.
According to studies, 1/10 fathers suffer from PPD.
The research shows that certain hormonal changes in fathers promote attachment to their newborns.
These may include lower testosterone levels as well as higher estrogen, prolactin, and cortisol levels.
Hormonal changes may also increase men’s risk of PPD.
Other non-hormonal factors that contribute to PPD include:
- Partner depression: Approximately half of the fathers who have depressed partners show signs of depression.
- Supplier pressure: The breadwinner/s face a greater financial burden to provide for their newborns. This can lead to PPD by causing undue stress.
PPD symptoms in men include:
- Aggression and rage
- a lack of motivation
- Rejection from relationships
- Inability to concentrate
Postpartum Depression treatment
If you suspect postnatal depression or depression during pregnancy, see a doctor, midwife, or health visitor as soon as possible (antenatal depression). Most women recover completely with the right treatment and support, though it may take some time.
The three main types of treatment are :
- Self-help. Talking to your family and friends about your feelings, making time to do things you enjoy, getting as much sleep as you can at night, exercising regularly, and eating a healthy diet are all examples of self-help.
- Talking therapy – a general practitioner (GP) may be able to recommend a self-help course or refer you for a course of therapy, such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT);
- Antidepressants – these may be recommended if your depression is severe or other treatments have failed; your doctor can prescribe a medicine that is safe to take while breastfeeding.