Postpartum Depression

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Updated: Mar 28, 2022
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Postpartum depression is a severe mood disorder one in ten women experiences following childbirth. It is caused by chemicals produced in the brain going haywire after the hormones are thrown off balanced by pregnancy. Postpartum depression’s effects vary for each woman, symptoms often include mood swings, anger, anxiety, panic attacks, weight loss/gain, insomnia, etc. Postpartum depression is very common but often goes undiagnosed and treated. Women feel ashamed and embarrassed by these feelings, thus they keep their feelings to themselves, worsening the issue.

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With postpartum depression occurring in the first year of birth it impacts the mother-child relationship and how she treats the child. In extreme cases mothers have been known to neglect or abuse their child. Viewing postpartum depression through a socio-cultural perspective shows the impact of society on the disorder. Also looking at the behavioral perspective of postpartum depression gives a good insight on the mother’s actions.

Socio-cultural Perspective

In the article The Interrelationships Among Acculturation, Social Support, and Postpartum Depression Symptoms Among Marriage-Based Immigrant Women in Taiwan, it explains the impact of social support and acculturation on postpartum depression. Acculturation can be defined as the assimilation to the dominant culture. The paper describes the disorder is very common among women who do not have an emotional support system, often women who moved away from their home and family.

The article sought to answer if low social support and the lack of acculturation were directly related to the onset of postpartum depression. For the study they compared questionnaires at one month and six months postpartum. The participants consisted of immigrant women in china of varying ages. They completed the study at one month and six months postpartum by face to face interviews or by telephone. They noted that the results showed no difference among the two different interview types. The initial one-month interview consisted of identifying the women’s background, such as age, work, family, and economic status. They then asked questions to discover her assimilation into society. They used a point scale to indicate the level of assimilation among the women. Next, they used a point scale to measure the women’s social support system.

When evaluating the results, they first noticed that at six months postpartum only half of women experiencing postpartum depression in the first month were still experiencing it. The study showed a negative and significant relationship between social support and depression. Women with better social mainstream acceptance/attitude were less likely to experience depression. The study concludes by identifying social support in early postpartum period is needed to decrease depression among mothers.

Behavioral Perspective

The lack of social support causes numerous behavior changes in women with postpartum depression. In the article, Temperament and character in women with postpartum depression, the behavioral differences among new mothers with postpartum depression are compared to mothers without postpartum depression. The article discusses postpartum depression as a widespread epidemic occurring during the first few months postpartum, where women experience delirious effects on their social and personal lives. The article asked if there was a personality difference between women with postpartum depression, healthy postpartum women, and non-postpartum women with depression.

The study took place in Sweden, where the health care system has a routine postpartum check up for women to complete the Edinburgh postnatal depression scale. Women who scored high on the EPDS were offered a counseling meeting. They then completed a depression rating scale. Some healthy postpartum women were also asked to complete the depression scale. They compared scores using a t-test. The results showed that women with postpartum depression differ from healthy postpartum women in temperament and character. Women with postpartum depression suffered from low self-directedness and high harm avoidance. They have numerous symptoms, such as feeling less purposeful, less responsible, more uncertainty, more shyness, etc. The results also showed that women with postpartum depression are very similar to non-postpartum women with depression.

Addressing Postpartum Depression

As a widespread epidemic postpartum depression needs to be addressed immediately. As one study pointed out there are few studies identifying certain aspects of postpartum depression, i.e. the behavioral perspective. A good start to addressing postpartum depression is to further research all aspects of it. Another helpful tip would be to diminish societies negative view on postpartum depression. If women were not as ashamed and reluctant to reach out for help the repercussions severity could be lessened.

Theory of Attachment

A mother is typically the primary caregiver in the early stages of development according to Lamb & Lewis (page 346). The mother is an important first attachment for the child. However, postpartum depression creates a severed relationship between the child and mother. This also relates to the theory of attachment. While the child may feel biologically keen to attach to the mother, her resistance can create distrust in the child. This prevents secure attachment from being attainable. Thus, the baby will lead to avoidant or resistant attachment.


Postpartum depression needs to be removed from the list of taboo topics. Women need to be able to feel supported as the embark in the journey of motherhood. Postpartum depression is a severe mood disorder that does not need to be an issue addressed alone. Society remains shocked when a woman suffering from postpartum depression does something drastic. However, society needs to look at how they perceive and treat postpartum depression and realize they are also part of the issue. To prevent postpartum depression society needs to normalize addressing the topic and push emotional support for all postpartum women. Lastly, society needs to seek to help women with their behavioral changes they are experiencing.

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Postpartum Depression. (2019, Jun 15). Retrieved from