Is Postpartum Depression Genetic? Here's What You Need to Know
Your genes do play a factor...
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention reports 1 in 9 women experience symptoms of postpartum depression.
Often referred to as the "baby blues," postpartum depression is more serious than most people know. A type of depression, can make it even more difficult for a mother to take care of her newborn child.
One of the biggest questions expecting mothers have about postpartum depression is whether or not it's genetic. We'll give you the rundown on that, and so much more about postpartum depression, below.
What Is Postpartum Depression?
Before we get into whether or not postpartum depression can affect you, we must first discuss what it actually is.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, "Postpartum depression is a mood disorder that can affect women after childbirth. Mothers with postpartum depression experience feelings of extreme sadness, anxiety, and exhaustion that may make it difficult for them to complete daily care activities for themselves or for others."
• Feeling sad, hopeless, empty, or overwhelmed
• Crying more often than usual or for no apparent reason
• Worrying or feeling overly anxious
• Feeling moody, irritable, or restless
• Oversleeping, or being unable to sleep even when her baby is asleep
• Having trouble concentrating, remembering details, and making decisions
• Experiencing anger or rage
• Losing interest in activities that are usually enjoyable
• Suffering from physical aches and pains, including frequent headaches, stomach problems, and muscle pain
• Eating too little or too much
• Withdrawing from or avoiding friends and family
• Having trouble bonding or forming an emotional attachment with her baby
• Persistently doubting her ability to care for her baby
• Thinking about harming herself or her baby
How Does a Woman Know If She Has Postpartum Depression?
The only way to know if you or your loved one is suffering from postpartum depression is to get diagnosed by a licensed physician. Even if all the symptoms are there, we are in no way certified to diagnose a new mom with postpartum depression.
If you feel like you're suffering from postpartum depression currently, be sure to immediately reach out to your health care provider and set up an appointment.
Is Postpartum Depression Genetic?
While we cannot diagnose you, let it be known that postpartum depression is in fact genetic. If your parents suffer from depression or another mental illness, you're more likely to have the mental illness, as well. That being said, it's important to remember that genetics is a numbers game. So just because your mother or father has depression, doesn't mean you'll inherit the mental illness—you're just at a higher risk than those whose family doesn't have a history of mental illness.
In 2013, Johns Hopkins researchers discovered alterations in two genes that can predict whether a woman will develop postpartum depression after giving birth.
According to the study, "The epigenetic modifications, which alter the way genes function without changing the underlying DNA sequence, can apparently be detected in the blood of pregnant women during any trimester, potentially providing a simple way to foretell depression in the weeks after giving birth, and an opportunity to intervene before symptoms become debilitating."
Knowing this can help doctors better diagnose expecting mothers before they give birth, thus ensuring the mother and her child are as healthy as can be.
How Is Postpartum Depression Treated?
Again, this is a discussion to have with your doctor or health care provider, because they will know what's best for you.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, there are two main ways postpartum depression is treated:
• Counseling/Talk Therapy: This treatment involves talking one-on-one with a mental health professional (a counselor, therapist, psychologist, psychiatrist, or social worker).
• Medication: Antidepressant medications act on the brain chemicals that are involved in mood regulation. Many antidepressants take a few weeks to be most effective. While these medications are generally considered safe to use during breastfeeding, a woman should talk to her health care provider about the risks and benefits to both herself and her baby.