Endocrine factors in the etiology of postpartum depression

Compr Psychiatry. May-Jun 2003;44(3):234-46. doi: 10.1016/S0010-440X(03)00034-8.


This article reviews the literature regarding endocrine factors postulated or presumed to be relevant in postpartum depression (PPD), a condition affecting at least 10% of childbearing women. The phenomenology and epidemiology of PPD are also described. Data suggest that parturition-related endocrine changes are causally implicated in PPD in a vulnerable subgroup of women. More specifically, studies by our group and others suggest a role for changes in estradiol and progesterone in precipitating mood symptoms among women with PPD. The mechanisms underlying such differential sensitivities remain undetermined. Future directions for research are explored.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Depression, Postpartum / blood
  • Depression, Postpartum / epidemiology
  • Depression, Postpartum / physiopathology*
  • Estradiol / blood
  • Estradiol / physiology
  • Female
  • Hormones / blood
  • Hormones / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Prevalence
  • Progesterone / blood
  • Progesterone / physiology
  • Prognosis
  • Risk Factors


  • Hormones
  • Progesterone
  • Estradiol