After the birth of a child, it is common for women to experience some type of mood disturbance. Typically, it is relatively mild (postpartum blues). However, about 10-15% of women experience a more severe and disabling illness, postpartum depression. It has been suggested that women who develop postpartum depression may be more sensitive to the hormonal changes that take place after delivery and that these hormonal changes may contribute to emergence of depressive symptoms during the postpartum period.

With respect to depression after miscarraige, it is thought that some women may experience similar, although less dramatic, hormonal shifts. Whether these hormonal changes can directly precipitate an episode of depression is still unclear. However, we do know that most women report some degree of psychological distress after a miscarriage, and that about 1 in 10 women actually meet criteria for major depression. Risk factors for depression after miscarriage include a prior history of depression, having inadequate social supports and being childless. Symptoms of depression include feeling sad or blue, loss of interest in one’s usual activities, and hopelessness. If any of these symptoms emerge after a miscarriage, further evaluation is necessary.

Neugebauer R. Kline J. Shrout P. et al. Major depressive disorder in the 6 months after miscarriage. JAMA 1997; 277:383-8.

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