Mild feelings of depression in the first two weeks after giving birth commonly occur in 50 to 80 percent of mothers. Because this is considered normal, this depression doesn’t get much attention. It is apparently caused by a rapid change in hormone balance. These mild episodes are often resolved without a need for treatment, however, mothers who experience this are at higher risk for a much more significant episode of depression or mood swings (known as postpartum depression) in the months that follow childbirth.
Postpartum depression is (considered to be) a psychiatric disorder that occurs in about 7 to 14 percent of adult women, usually between 2 to 10 weeks after giving birth (sometimes it may not develop until up to two years). A history of difficult premenstrual syndrome (PMS), and a personal or family history of depression (especially postpartum) are factors that place women at greater risks for this depression.
The cause of postpartum depression may be primarily hormonal, especially if this is the woman’s first experience with depression. Marital tension, stressors related to child-care, and a lack of strong emotional social support can also trigger postpartum depression. Even adoptive parents may experience this during the period of adaptation to their new lives. There is also evidence that psychosocial stressors are the strongest factors in causing depression; 26 percent of teenage mothers develop postpartum depression (higher than any other age group). Lifestyle and social factors can also be risk factors in postpartum depression.
A long term inability to adjust to the new demands of motherhood can have a devastating effect on both the mother and the infant. Unfortunately, most depressed mothers of newborns are only given the options of counseling and taking drug medications. Although it will narrow their options further, mothers should (if possible) sustain from taking drug medications during breastfeeding. There are many nutritional and lifestyle factors in addition to the known social factors that should work together to reduce the risk and treat postpartum depression. Tryptophan, omega 3, omega 6, and folic acid are all nutrients that can be added to the diet to reduce depression. Some of these nutrients can be found in foods such as black-eyed cowpeas, almonds, flax seeds, roasted pumpkin seeds, tofu, bananas, strawberries, avocados, chickpeas, lentils, and red kidney beans. Proper sleep, sunlight, and exercise, can also help to recover from (or reduce the risk of) depression. Try adding some of these foods to your diet, and going for a short walk each day.
Source: Depression and the Way Out