Acera Health

Is Postpartum Depression Genetic?

Reviewed by: Melody Stone
mom with newborn baby looking tired with postpartum depression

The journey of parenthood is a tapestry of emotions, ranging from immense joy and wonder to significant anxiety and fear. For a substantial number of new mothers, this transformative period also marks the onset of postpartum depression (PPD). It’s a concern that we at Acera Health take very seriously, recognizing the multifaceted nature of mental health challenges, especially PPD. A prevalent question in the realm of maternal mental health is: “Is postpartum depression genetic?” This question is not only common but also crucial in understanding the depth of PPD. his study found that the global prevalence of postpartum depression is approximately 17.22%. This prevalence rate underscores the significance of the condition on a global scale and highlights the importance of addressing and understanding the various factors, including genetics, that contribute to postpartum depression.

Symptoms of Postpartum Depression

The symptoms of postpartum depression (PPD) can manifest in various forms and differ in intensity from one individual to another. It’s important to recognize these symptoms as they are the initial indicators that a mother may be suffering from PPD. Common symptoms include:

  • Persistent feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and helplessness are more severe and constant than the typical mood swings associated with childbirth.
  • A noticeable loss of interest in once enjoyable activities leads to a marked reduction in pleasure or satisfaction.
  • Changes in appetite or weight can be either a significant decrease or increase, impacting physical health.
  • Disturbances in sleep patterns, including difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, or sleeping more than usual.
  • Fatigue or a significant loss of energy makes it challenging to perform daily tasks or care for the newborn.
  • Feelings of worthlessness or excessive guilt are often related to motherhood or personal identity.
  • Difficulty thinking, concentrating, or making decisions can affect personal and family life.
  • Severe mood swings, which are more intense than the typical emotional variability seen in new mothers.


Thoughts of harming oneself or the baby, a severe symptom that requires immediate attention.

It is reported that approximately 70-80% of women experience some form of mood disturbances or “baby blues” after childbirth. However, when these symptoms persist and intensify, it may indicate PPD. Recognizing these symptoms is crucial in seeking timely help. At Acera Health, we emphasize the importance of a supportive and non-judgmental environment, allowing mothers to express their feelings openly and receive the comprehensive care they require for recovery.

If you’re unsure whether you or someone you know might be experiencing postpartum depression, taking a postpartum depression quiz can help identify potential signs and guide you toward seeking professional advice.

The Genetic Link to Postpartum Depression

The quest to understand the genetic links to postpartum depression (PPD) has been a critical focus of recent scientific research. These investigations are essential in offering insights into the hereditary aspects of PPD and are key to deepening our understanding of its causes, which is vital for the development of targeted treatments. One significant finding in this area of genetic research is the relationship between family history and the likelihood of developing PPD. Further enhancing our understanding, a study has identified specific genetic predictors for PPD. Researchers discovered that alterations in two genes, TTC9B and HP1BP3, can predict with approximately 85% certainty the likelihood of a woman developing postpartum depression. This remarkable finding underscores the substantial role that genetics play in the risk of PPD. 

Grasping these genetic factors is pivotal in creating more effective prevention and treatment strategies. It enables healthcare providers, like those at Acera Health, to identify high-risk individuals early and provide them with tailored support and interventions. The ongoing research in this domain is promising and may reveal new approaches for managing and treating PPD. This could lead to better outcomes for new mothers and their families, emphasizing the importance of integrating genetic insights into maternal mental health care.

In addition to the genetic factors of PPD, it’s important to understand its relationship with other mental health conditions, such as bipolar disorder. To explore this connection further, read more about bipolar and postpartum depression.

The Role of Hormonal Changes

The postpartum period is marked by significant hormonal fluctuations, which have a profound impact on a woman’s mental health. Naturally occurring hormonal changes after childbirth are substantial; for instance, estrogen and progesterone, significantly elevated hormones during pregnancy, rapidly decline after delivery. This sudden hormonal shift can have a destabilizing effect on mood and emotional well-being, particularly in women who are genetically predisposed to mood disorders.

Additionally, changes in thyroid hormones, which can occur postpartum, may also contribute to depressive symptoms. These thyroid changes can lead to symptoms that mirror depression, such as fatigue, weight changes, and mood instability. Research indicates that as many as 10% of women experience some form of thyroid dysfunction postpartum, which can influence their mental health.

Environmental and Lifestyle Factors

While genetics and hormonal changes are critical elements in the development of postpartum depression (PPD), environmental and lifestyle factors also play a significant role. These include:

  • Stressful Life Events: Major life changes or stressors, such as financial strain, relationship issues, or the loss of a loved one, can increase the risk of developing PPD.
  • Lack of Social Support: A strong support system is vital for new mothers. The absence of support from partners, family, or friends can exacerbate feelings of isolation and contribute to the development of PPD.
  • Previous Mental Health Issues: Women with a history of depression or other mental health disorders are at a higher risk of experiencing PPD.
  • Complications During Pregnancy or Delivery: Traumatic or highly stressful experiences during pregnancy or childbirth can trigger PPD. This includes medical complications, emergency interventions, or a newborn’s health issues.


At Acera Health, we adopt a holistic approach to treating PPD, acknowledging that a combination of genetic, hormonal, environmental, and lifestyle factors can influence the development and severity of the condition. Our treatment plans are tailored to address these diverse factors, ensuring that each patient receives comprehensive care that considers their experiences and personal history.

Managing and Treating Postpartum Depression

Professional Support at Acera Health

Addressing postpartum depression (PPD) requires professional intervention, and Acera Health is dedicated to providing comprehensive and individualized care for those experiencing symptoms of PPD. Our approach is multifaceted, integrating various treatment modalities to cater to each patient’s unique needs.


One of the cornerstones of our treatment program is therapy, with a particular emphasis on cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and interpersonal therapy (IPT). CBT is effective in helping women understand and change negative thought patterns and behaviors related to PPD, while IPT focuses on improving interpersonal relationships and social support networks. Both forms of therapy have been shown to be highly effective in treating PPD, helping women to process their emotions, tackle the problems they face, and set achievable goals for themselves and their families.


In conjunction with therapy, medication may also be recommended as part of the treatment plan. Antidepressants, for example, can be instrumental in managing the chemical imbalances that contribute to PPD symptoms. The decision to use medication is always made in close consultation with the patient, considering their specific circumstances and health history. Our team at Acera Health is committed to monitoring patients closely for any side effects and making necessary adjustments to ensure the most effective and safe treatment.

Support Groups

We also encourage participation in support groups, which offer a platform for new mothers to share their experiences and feelings in a safe and understanding environment. These groups provide invaluable emotional support and a sense of community, which can be crucial in the healing process.

Preventative Measures

Prevention plays a crucial role in managing PPD. At Acera Health, we advocate for proactive measures that can reduce the risk of developing PPD, especially for those with a known genetic predisposition. Preventative strategies include:

  • Regular prenatal and postnatal check-ups to monitor the mother’s physical and mental health.
  • Building a robust support network that includes family, friends, and healthcare professionals.Practicing self-care and stress management techniques to help manage the demands of new motherhood.
  • Openly discussing any personal or family history of depression or mental illness with a healthcare provider to tailor a prevention and treatment plan accordingly.


By understanding the risk factors and integrating preventive care with effective treatment strategies, we aim to support women through their journey of motherhood, helping them overcome the challenges of PPD. At Acera Health, our goal is to ensure that every mother has access to the care and support she needs during this critical time. Supporting someone with PPD can be challenging. If you’re looking for ways to help a loved one, discover practical tips on how to help a friend with postpartum depression.

Treatment for Postpartum Depression at Acera

While the exact role of genetics in postpartum depression (PPD) is complex and not fully understood, it is evident that a combination of genetic, environmental, and lifestyle factors plays a crucial role in its development. At Acera Health, we are dedicated to providing holistic and comprehensive care to women grappling with PPD. Our treatment approach is tailored to each individual, acknowledging the unique experiences and needs of every mother. We offer a range of services, including personalized therapy sessions, medication management when necessary, and support groups to foster community and emotional support. Seeking help for postpartum depression is a sign of strength. If you or someone you know is suffering from PPD, we encourage you to reach out to Acera Health. Our team of compassionate professionals is here to support you through this challenging time, guiding you towards recovery and well-being. Remember, you are not alone on this journey.

Clinically Reviewed by:

postpartum | melody 1

Melody Stone, LMFT

Melody Stone is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist who has over 17 years of experience in the field of behavioral health. She works as the Chief Clincal Officer (CCO) to Acera Health, where she is a strong leader focused on sustainable success.

Related Resources

Pretty woman holding a newborn baby in her arms

Postpartum Depression & Bipolar Disorder

Postpartum Depression & Bipolar Disorder Reviewed by: Melody Stone Acera Health provides a specialized residential treatment program aimed at the complexities of postpartum depression and

Mother holding newborn in her arms and she's struggling with postpartum depression

Postpartum Depression Treatment for Women

Postpartum Depression Treatment for Women Reviewed by: Melody Stone What is Postpartum Depression? Postpartum depression (PPD) is a significant mental health condition affecting approximately one

postpartum | Postpartum Depression Quiz

Postpartum Depression Self-Test

Postpartum Depression Quiz [Self-Test] Table of Contents Postpartum Depression Self-Test Understanding Postpartum Depression Postpartum depression (PPD) is a significant mental health disorder, affecting numerous new

Have Us Reach Out