Depression and Weaning
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Depression and Weaning
I recently weaned my 2-year-old. It was quite easy and only a few days of
mildly sore breasts; I think we were both ready.
That was about a month ago. Now, just the past few days, all of a sudden I am
having what appears to be the most incredible case of pms in the world (yet I
am mid-cycle): I can't stop crying, I scream at my husband, and I have this
intense, aching sadness in my chest much of the time. I can't remember feeling
like this since adolescence, when everything seemed to hurt my feelings. I feel
a little like I'm being peeled!
This is my second child, and I nursed the first one into the pregnancy of my
second. Consequently, I have been either pregnant or nursing (or both) for six
years now. I've been having pretty small periods since I weaned her. I'm forty,
so I don't think it's menopause! My question is, has anyone experienced a
hormone crash from weaning? Is this common? Or is something else going on,
and it's just coincidence that it's around this time? Any suggestions on how
to cope would be great.
I also had extreme ''PMS'' after weaning my daughter. I
know many people who have experienced this. However, I
also had bad postpartum depression. I recovered from the
postpartum depression after about three months. I did not
want to suffer again when I got hormonally depressed from
weaning my daughter so I went on antidepressants. I think I
would have bounced back after a few months but I wasn't
willing to go through the few months of depression. Anyway,
I wanted to let you know that you are not alone. I hope it
goes away for you soon - but it if doesn't I recommend
getting help. Life is too short. Good luck
Oh, yeah, do I ever remember that. For a few weeks after I weaned my
son, I felt like I was having a major clinical depression. In fact,
just a little
while ago I read over something I wrote in a journal around that time,
which ended with my ''screaming'' (in pencil, all caps, lots of
points) ''I HATE MYSELF, I HATE MY LIFE, I HATE EVERYTHING.'' I
even went and saw an old counselor of mine -- but just for a couple of
weeks. After that, suddenly, miraculously, everything was fine -- and
figured out what the problem had been.
Oh yes, this sounds very familiar. Indeed, I know many women who
have gone through very emotional times just after weaning, a few who
became quite depressed. You will return to equilibrium. However,
perhaps it's time to talk to a doctor or a nursing specialist about how
weather the changes.
I also weaned my son just over a week ago, after very very gradually
feedings to just a supplemental feeding after his morning bottle.
About 3 days after
his last time nursing, I had a very hormonal/pms-type day. It was also
middle of my cycle, and very striking! I felt like I had as a
teenager: a kind-of
moody, depressed-in-my-body kind of feeling. I think it was quite
the loss I have been feeling about the nursing (which is also more
intense than I
expected --my son still asks to nurse several times a day: he doesn't
know he will
never nurse again, but I do! so I feel I'm holding the loss for us
both). Luckily, the
physiological depression only seemed to last a day, and so I'm left to
the emotional feelings (as I mentioned, intense, but very distinct from
ones). I'm curious to hear what other women have to say about this.
I've heard that
it takes a couple of months for your body to get back to normal
I've just had a similar experience just very recently.
Thought not entirely weaned yet, my daughter has been nursing
less and less frequently in the last couple of months,
expecially at night ( :-) ). This triggered my cycles to get
back in track. The first period after 2.5 years was by far the
worst I've ever had. Preceded by very low mood and migraines,
I was first relieved when it started - ah, that's why I was so
miserable! - only to suffer a few more days from cramping,
nervousness, back pain, all of this a lot worse than it used to be.
I talked to a number of other women, and I learned that it is not
uncommon that the first one or two period are really bad. Will
get back to normal after that. So, I'm am optimistic... and I'm
thinking of exploring some natural approaches to help my body
handling this transition (good food, no coffeine, fresh air and
sun, essences etc.), and may be more specific things if it
This is not exactly what you describe, as I didn't entirely wean
yet, but the bottom line may be the same.
Get well soon,
I experienced a pretty awful two months after I weaned my
younger son. I too, weaned slowly but experienced what felt
like a pretty severe postpartum depression. It subsided without
any special treatment and I felt a bit more in control when I
realized what was causing it. Also, I tried to get a bit more
Does anyone know whether gradually weaning a breastfed baby has
a tendency to cause depression? I've read that SUDDEN weaning
can cause depression, but in my case the process has been quite
gradual, and I've just now completed it by cutting out the
morning feeding. (My child is 9 months old.) All of a sudden I
find that I'm feeling anxious, unable to sleep well, having
hormonal sobbing fits that remind me of when I was pregnant,
etc. I'm wondering whether I'm just having a small bout of
random depression, or whether there's a connection -- and if
there is, how long I can expect this to last! Thanks, if you
have any thoughts.
I too weaned gradually and had about a week or two's worth of
depression. I know it was exacerbated by my daughter's struggles
with the weaning: I felt some guilt and ambivalence that added to
whatever potent hormonal brew circulated in my veins.
What helped me was to talk about it with sympathetic friends and
my husband. One friend lent me _The Nursing Mothers' Guide to
Weaning_ by Huggins and another person whose name I forget.
Apparently, depression after weaning is not unusual.
Hang in there and take care of yourself.
I also gradually weaned my son last year and experienced pretty
severe mood swings and depression. I thought I was going a bit
nuts until my sister made the connection between the weaning and
my feelings/moods. It was hormonal hell. I saw an
acupuncturist/herbalist and started to feel much more even
keeled. Good luck.
This sounds exactly like me. I just weaned my 12-month-old, very
gradually, and have been having some symptoms of depression --
anxiety, mood swings, etc. Things got pretty bad right after I
stopped the early morning nursing, about 2 weeks ago. There are
other possible contributing factors (career decisions that must be
made, general lack of sleep), but my husband pointed out that
maybe the lack of the oxytocin your body produces when nursing is
difficult for some people to adjust to. I have no medical
evidence to back this up, but it sounds plausible, given that
oxytocin is a hormone that makes one feel relaxed.
I also scoured the web for information on weaning and depression
after I weaned my daughter three months ago, but didn't find much.
I also weaned very gradually, cutting out feedings slowly over
several months. But after the last one went I felt everything
you described --- I was afraid I was pregnant again because of
all the obviously hormonal weepiness. Like you, I only found
info on depression and abrupt weaning, but I am pretty certain
that I was suffering weaning-related depression (good thing my
husband put two and two together for me!). Though it became
pretty clear to me when I fell off the wagon after a week of not
nursing (my daughter was begging so pathetically) and found my
mood instantly elevated. I began to wonder if I was a kind of
nursing addict --- my brain was suffering from the absence of
those hormones that are released when you nurse. I decided to
self-medicate with my old kicked drug of choice caffeine (on the
wagon for 5 years of being pregnant twice and nursing for 15 and
23 months), and, while I am no longer depressed and haven't
nursed my daughter for 3 months now, I am, once again, a coffee
addict. I imagine the depression would have lifted without the
caffeine, and I did go a week without coffee and had lots of
headaches, but no depression. I apologize for this
stream-of-consciousness. I hope it helps to know that you are
not alone and are likely to get past it in a month or two. It
made me feel better to read your post and know that other people
go through the same thing!
I got behind on my e-mail and didn't see your post until after
the newsletter went on vacation, so I hope by the time you
read this, you are feeling better.
Earlier this year I became
very depressed after weaning my son at 19 months.
Weaning had been gradual, and then I dropped the last
feeding (once a day, before his afternoon nap). Within about
a week, I realized that I was seriously depressed and
experienceing mood swings which I eventually connected to
the weaning. It was sort of like very exaggerated PMS. For
me, it lasted about a bit over a month --through one
complete menstrual cycle. I started to feel better almost the
minute my period started. If I hadn't started to feel better, I
was planning to consult my obgyn and to seek advice on
other alternatives (herbs, acupuncture, etc.). Although there
was some emotional componant to my mood and behavior,
it seemed to me to be mostly a hormonal problem. The last
thing I wanted to do was to have to take any kind of
hormones or medication. I was lucky that it cleared up just
through the normal flow of my hormonal cycle. It does make
me feel better to hear that others had the same experience.
I had never heard of anyone else having this problem and
hadn't had any trouble when I weaned my older son at 18
months several years ago. I started to refer to it as my
''post-lacation depression''. It was very real and took me
very much by surprise. If yours hasn't gone away yet, don't
dismiss it, but please try to seek whatever help and support
you need. Good luck!
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