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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    What causes postnatal depression?

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    beyondblue is a national, independent, not-for-profit organisation working to address issues associated with depression, anxiety and related disorders in Australia.beyondblue is a bipartisan initiative of … View Profile

    Like depression which occurs at any other time, PND doesn't have one definite cause - but it's likely to result from a combination of factors. A mixture of physical, biological and hormonal factors seem to put women at risk of experiencing depression following the birth of a baby including:

    •     a past history of depression and/or anxiety
    •     a family history of mental disorders
    •     a stressful pregnancy
    •     depression during the current pregnancy
    •     difficulty breastfeeding.
    •     experiencing severe ‘baby blues’
    •     a prolonged labour and/or delivery complications
    •     problems with the baby's health

    Sometimes the reality of motherhood doesn't match the ‘warm and fuzzy’ images often portrayed in the media. Unfortunately, for many women, the early weeks and months of motherhood is a constant, tiring and demanding job.

    Some new mothers can find it hard dealing with the changes in lifestyle - like spending less time with colleagues in the paid workforce and having little time to go out with family and friends. These adjustments and other psychological and social risk factors can make some women more likely to develop depression.

    Social and psychological risk factors may include:
    •     a lack of practical, financial and/or emotional support
    •     past history of abuse
    •     being a single parent
    •    difficulties in close relationships   
    •     having an unsettled baby (i.e. difficulties with feeding and sleeping)
    •     having unrealistic expectations about motherhood including:
           - mothers bond with their babies straight away
           - mothers know instinctively what to do
           - motherhood is a time of joy
    •     sleep deprivation
    •     moving house
    •     making work adjustments (e.g. stopping or re-starting work)

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