What Causes Post Natal Depression (Part 2)

What Causes Post Natal Depression (Part 2)

by Dr Emma Gray - 20th October, 2014

The first part of this blog looked at how previous episodes of depression and low self esteem can make a new mother vulnerable to post natal depression. Part 2 considers another three vulnerability factors.

1. Expectations of Motherhood

The media presents motherhood in a way that creates very unrealistic expectations, how many times have you heard a new mother say that they didn’t realise how hard it was going to be? These expectations make the new mother vulnerable to depression when she realises she cannot meet them.

Whether that it is because her baby won’t sleep when they are supposed to, won’t breastfeed, wants a dummy, doesn’t want a dummy or won’t stop crying and she doesn’t know why, a new mother can be left feeling that she isn’t doing a good enough job; a core belief held by those who become depressed.

2. Overinvestment in work

Any imbalance in life can make us vulnerable to mental health problems. Overinvestment in work is a good example of this and can lead to problems at any stage of life, particularly if unrelenting standards (perfectionism) in the workplace are the way that you manage low self esteem and confidence. A new mother who previous managed her mood by over working will find the challenging transition from working professional to stay at home mum particularly difficult because not only has her role in the world dramatically changed, she has lost one of her principals ways of coping when she feels inadequate or just not quite good enough; a recipe for postnatal depression.

3. Poor Body Image

The physical changes that a woman’s body must undergo in order to have a baby present a challenge for the most secure and body confidence amongst us. For someone who has poor body image or whose self esteem is tied to their weight and shape (as in those suffering from an eating disorder), these changes are enough to trigger an episode of post natal depression.

To recap the previous part of this article, click below to navigate.


Dr Emma Gray

Dr Emma Gray

I am often the first person with whom my patients share significant and intimate thoughts and memories; I never take that privileged position for granted nor the opportunity to help someone to feel better about themselves and discover a more fulfilling life. One of my colleague once described me as natural psychologist; I guess she was alluding to the fact that I feel at ease being a therapist, I can empathise with people’s distress and discomfort but don’t feel overwhelmed by it, I can understand their problem and know how to help, it has always just felt like what I should be doing.


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