Post Weaning Depression


Post Weaning Depression

Tulip Garden

This is a much lesser known or talked about issue than post-partum depression.

In fact, the DSM-IV doesn’t distinguish the two diagnoses, I suppose since it is for the most part the same physiology. Here’s what happens:  Post-partum, there is a huge dip in the amount of oxytocin produced after the spike from labor and birth that is accompanied by a huge dip in progesterone and estrogen as well.  Post-weaning, there is another dip in oxytocin that is accompanied by a huge dip in prolactin (along with some other players but that’s the biggie!).

A mini physiology lesson so you understand why this phenomenon is real and not just an ’emotional mama thing’

Key players for post-weaning depression:

Oxytocin and Prolactin


Oxytocin is the hormone that triggers milk release or ‘let down’ & is the feel-good hormone

Oxytocin reflex


Prolactin stimulates milk production and encourages feeling of nurturing and protection




What happens after breastfeeding ceases, is that these hormones are not being pumped through your body, giving you the high-loving-snuggly feelings anymore, and your brain and body feel the lack!  Hormone receptors and neurotransmitters have been down-regulated during nursing.  Your body needs some good endorphins to make up for it and level out once again!  To help boost those:


Get exercising

Get social

Get rest

Breathe well

Eat well

Have some sex (finally)

Get some sunshine


When Cooper and I really slowed down on the nursing around 16 months, to just a few times per week in our transition to weaning period, I felt a noticeable shift in my energy and moods. I certainly felt the inklings of depression. My husband and I are both in the 1st year throws of starting 2 brick and mortar businesses, plus a toddler…so ya, not everyday is peachy. But this felt different, I am in great tune to my body and it felt so dang off. So during one blah evening, I went googling and found this article that had me sobbing.

The Hardest Two Months of My Life

I had a lovely pregnancy and lovely nursing relationship (once over the painful first 6-8 weeks), and hadn’t experienced much beyond awesomeness of it all. Until this. And it was pretty dark, just as she explains. I kind of put my head down and got done what I needed to get done. I certainly considered getting clinical help, and even told my husband that I was going to. But me, being a terrible patient – and knowing it’ll take a month or two to get my hormones regulated – just stuck it out. That’s not the advice I would give to others, but it’s what I did. I knew exercise was helpful to boost endorphin production, so I slugged my butt to the gym at 5:15am every morning – just for a half hour workout – to get a little sweaty and feel productive. That helped a LOT!

Just wanted to let others know that you’re not alone, that those dark feelings you’re having may in fact, be due to the final separation of you and baby/toddler. That it will be ok, and you can overcome it with tools you can use, and with the help from a professional. To let someone else know what is going on, so they can be on your side.

Here are some other great articles – please read and share!

Depression Post-Weaning

Talk About Post Weaning Depression

Side Effects of Weaning


Anyone else experience this, what’s your story?


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I’m the most extroverted introvert you’ll ever met. I’m happiest curled up reading and not talking to anyone. But, find immense reward in taking BOLD chances. My background is as a physician - I am a hardcore science nerd, spending my former years attending medical school and being all things “doctor.” Then I traveled the country with my husband being an official baseball wife - which is hilariously not glamorous. Once back in Dayton, spent a few years as a personal trainer working with clients suffering from cancer, chronic illness, and the “I can’t do it syndrome.” In 2014 I co-founded Kate’s Plate, which is a healthy cooking service here to transform lives and the way we do family dinner. Also, I am the ‘CEO’ of Beyond The Game Sports Training, my hubby’s sports facility, and teach healthy cooking classes at Dororthy Lane Market’s Culinary Center. I very much struggle to switch modes from balls-out entrepreneur to gentle mommy mode on the daily. My son, Cooper, is 1 and a spitting image of his father, Jeff. He is obsessed with his grandpa and has the darndest little smirk. Jeff and I are Centerville natives, and came back here to plant our roots and give back to the place who made us who we are today. Random facts: I hate to shop, I eat a lot of butter, I'm a hippie at heart, I’ve taken flying lessons, I don’t watch TV or do Pinterest (gasp!!) Favorite things about being motherhood: Nursing (calorie burning bonus, hello!), watching daddy make the kid laugh so hard he can barely breathe, and the way the moments of parenting bring me back down to earth, back to the here and now