The cessation of breastfeeding is known to have a possible link with depression and anxiety in new mothers. The unintentional cessation of breastfeeding can be heartbreaking for some women, since it is the final bodily process from your pregnancy. However, studies performed up until now could not draw a clear conclusion in determining if the breastfeeding actually had any effect on feelings of anxiety and depression. For the most part, these studies could not say whether or not anxiety and depression affects the cessation of breastfeeding, or if the cessation of breastfeeding affected anxiety and depression. If you are just starting the process of breastfeeding, you should look at the results of a more recent study to ease your mind about the negative effects of breastfeeding cessation.
Every mother will have to discontinue breastfeeding at some point, so potential feelings of anxiety and depression are not completely avoidable as they relate to the discontinuation of breastfeeding. However, knowing whether or not you will be affected can help you prepare mentally. The results of a recent study show that women who experienced high levels of anxiety or depression during or before pregnancy will likely experience them to an even greater degree in the event of early breastfeeding cessation. In other words, for women already experiencing anxiety, early breastfeeding cessation will make anxiety even worse.
If you have experienced high levels of anxiety and depression before or during your pregnancy, studies show that there is a good chance you will experience them again in the event of breastfeeding cessation. While these feelings are not necessarily preventable, there are different types of support and coping strategies that you can seek out to deal with the emotional struggle. Make sure your health care provider knows that you have a higher likelihood of depression in such a situation so that he or she can help guide you through it.
Feelings of anxiety and depression are natural in pregnancy and childbirth. There is a lot of pressure to be the perfect parent, and the uncertainties of the process can send anyone into a panic. Additionally, once you have given birth, your entire life as you know changes, and the feeling can be jolting. However, seeking psychological assistance before the problems become too monumental is always an option, and women with a greater likelihood of anxiety should not feel ashamed in seeking out such help.
Source: Eivind Ystrom: Breastfeeding Cessation and Symptoms of Anxiety and Depression. BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth Volume 12 May 2012