Publication Date

Fall 12-6-2016


School of Nursing


Nursing (B.S.N.)


Postpartum, Depression, Iron, Deficiency, Dopamine, Neurotransmitters, Brain, Iron Status, Childbearing


Maternal, Child Health and Neonatal Nursing | Medical Cell Biology | Medical Neurobiology | Mental Disorders | Neurosciences | Psychiatric and Mental Health | Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing


Postpartum depression is recognized as the most common complication of childbearing; however, its etiology remains fairly undetermined. Many different influences have been hypothesized as to what may cause postpartum depression, including changes in levels of various hormones (such as estrogen and progesterone), a decrease in serotonin, low levels of vitamin D, social factors, and iron deficiency. The lack of strong evidence for one specific cause makes it fairly clear that there are many factors that play a role in the development of postpartum depression. Iron deficiency is one issue that is thought to contribute to the development of postpartum depression due to iron’s role of oxygenating the brain, as well as in the synthesis of some neurotransmitters and enzymes in the nervous system. Therefore, iron deficiency can result in decreased oxygenation of the brain tissue, which can result in depression symptoms, and it can also decrease the number of certain neurotransmitters that are linked to depression.