Depression experienced after childbirth is called postnatal or postpartum depression also known as PND.
About 10-13% of women experience depression when they are pregnant or after birth. Causes of PND are likely to include hormone changes, previous experience of depression and/or anxiety, personality, timing of pregnancy and many other factors.
What causes postnatal depression?
Importance of partner relationship
Strategies for new parents
Strategies to support a new parent
There is debate about the causes of postnatal depression, but they are likely to include:
Recent research at Jean Hailes has found women with a partner who is caring, considerate and appreciative are less likely to have depression symptoms six months after the birth of their baby. But if they experience their partner to be very controlling and domineering then they are more likely to have symptoms at six months.
The relationship is also important to getting better. "A woman's experience of the strength of the relationship with her intimate partner is closely related to recovery from the symptoms of postnatal depression," says Dr Sonia McCallum, a Research Fellow at the Jean Hailes Women's Mental Health Program.
"Couples also need to recognise the importance of communicating with each other at this time. Often if they sit down and talk there is a lot they didn't realise. Having a baby is a huge adjustment for both of them", says Dr McCallum.
To improve maternal mental health in the postpartum (after birth) period, interventions need to address partner relationships and have to involve both partners. A lot of work in the past has focused on the mother, but this research highlights interventions need to focus on both parents.
If you would like to know more about postnatal depression visit the Perinatal Anxiety & Depression Australia (PANDA).
This web page is designed to be informative and educational. It is not intended to provide specific medical advice or replace advice from your health practitioner. The information above is based on current medical knowledge, evidence and practice as at March 2014.