Post Weaning Depression

No one else will ever know the strength of my love for you.
After all, you’re the only one who knows the sound of my heart from the inside.

~Kristen Proby~

There is so much that is not understood about
postpartum depression and perinatal mood disorders. Even less understood is the connection between weaning and depression. A large percentage of Moms report experiencing mood changes related to weaning, and some Moms dip into full blown depression after weaning their babies. There are not enough studies or scientific evidence yet to state for certain what the cause could be, however we can discuss the possibilities...

First of all, it is well known that the hormone Oxytocin plays a large role in breastfeeding. The hormone is explained well by wikipedia:

Oxytocin (Oxt) /ˌɒksɨˈtsɪn/ is a mammalian neurohypophysial hormone that acts primarily as a neuromodulator in the brainOxytocin plays roles in sexual reproduction, in particular during and after childbirth. It is released in large amounts after distension of the cervix anduterus during labor, facilitating birth, maternal bonding, and, after stimulation of the nipples, breastfeeding. Both childbirth and milk ejection result from positive feedback mechanisms.

Recent studies have begun to investigate oxytocin's role in various behaviors, including orgasm, social recognition, pair bonding, anxiety, and maternal behaviors.[2] For this reason, it is sometimes referred to as the "love hormone". There is some evidence that oxytocin promotesethnocentric behavior, incorporating the trust and empathy of in-groups with their suspicion and rejection of outsiders.[3] Furthermore, genetic differences in the oxytocin receptor gene (OXTR) have been associated with maladaptive social traits such as aggressive behaviour.[4]
From Wikipedia, the free Encyclopedia

When a women weans her child, she experiences changes in hormones. All of a sudden having less of this amazing hormone oxytocin in your body could very well contribute to this phenomenon.

Secondly, for many women, the act of weaning their child is a very emotional one. It feels to some Moms like a bond is being broken and a special relationship is being lost. Weaning can also be stressful for many Mothers as it is not always an easy process.

During the weaning process women may experience symptoms such as fatigue, unexplained sadness and irratability. If these symptoms evolve into a full blown depression which could include things like: lack of interest in normal activities, changes in sleep and eating patterns, prolonged changes in mood... Please seek help!

What can help? Just as when dealing with postpartum depression, there are many different things that can help, depending on the person and the severity of the situation:

1. Talk to a healthcare professional you trust and see what they advise.

2. Look at the basics of healthy living:
Are you getting a good nights sleep most nights?
Diet & Supplements
Are you eating a healthy, well-rounded diet with lots of foods that are good for brain health?
Are you taking supplements that promote good brain health at a time when your body may need the extra boost?
Do you get a bit of fun exercise in every day?
Nature & Sunshine
Do you get outside and experience nature? Are you getting enough sunshine?

3. Going for some type of talk therapy with a Psychologist or Therapist can be helpful for many.

4. If you are open to it, explore alternative therapies such as acupuncture, massage, reiki, art therapy and so much more... there are lots of interesting things out there and different therapies work for different people!

5. If nothing else is helping, there is nothing wrong with going on an antidepressant prescribed by your doctor, to help get you past a severe depression.

In conclusion, there are lots of options. Try what seems appealing to you and keep trying until you are feeling better and beyond!

Tascheleia Marangoni
Founding Executive Director, PPDA