There has been a lot of research conducted to understand antenatal and postnatal depression (sometimes called ‘perinatal depression’) and its causes. Although biological changes such as fluctuations in hormones following birth might contribute to postnatal depression, this is only part of the story.
Depression is not simply a biological illness, or a heavy cloud that “descends upon us” – even though depression is often experienced like this. Instead, a combination of psychological, social, cultural and biological factors best explain the onset of perinatal depression. Some women are more vulnerable than others, for instance, due to a family history of depression. Triggering events such as loss of income and insufficient support can also contribute. The transition to parenthood is also challenging, especially if this your first baby.