Symptoms of Post-Adoption Depression

Post-adoptive parents are also prone to experience depression after the adoption. This has been recognized by researchers, and the causes are being explored. They may range from personal stressors such as infertility and lack of parenting skills, to the emotional residue of past treatments and failures to conceive, lack of support for the adoption, and physical or emotional stresses of raising children.


Post-adoptive depression symptoms do not vary much from typical depression. These may include the following:

  • A feeling of sadness or dejection persisting throughout the day for most days
  • Not feeling interested or motivated to initiate or carry out activities which used to be attractive earlier
  • Weight changes due to eating too little or too much
  • Sleep disturbances such as insomnia, hypersomnia, or interrupted sleep
  • Agitated behavior or anger
  • Withdrawal from social interactions with peers or family
  • Feelings of being worthless
  • Guilt and shame about one’s own life
  • Not being able to take simple decisions
  • Always feeling tired
  • Constant tension headaches
  • Aches and pains without an identifiable physical basis
  • Lack of concentration and forgetfulness
  • Feeling of being overwhelmed by parenting and family responsibilities
  • The thought that life is passing one by while one’s time and energy is occupied by the new child almost exclusively
  • Suicidal thoughts or fixation upon thoughts of death

What Might Cause Post-Adoptive Depression?

Biological birth is associated with many anxiety-inducing factors such as the wide fluctuation in hormone levels that accompanies pregnancy and delivery, the change in body shape and function, emotional liability, and physical stresses of childrearing. However, adoptive parents have their own set of stressors to face.

These include the past experience of infertility and its unsuccessful treatment in many cases, the feeling of lack of self-worth and social rejection, and the inflated expectation of a perfect family following adoption. Mistrust of the new child actually accepting the parents as his or her own parents, and a fear that bonding may not be perfectly achieved, add to these stresses.

These may be exacerbated by the long and demanding adoption process, which may be costly as well. The finding that all of society does not look upon an adopted child as kindly as the parents do may also contribute to the onset of depression, together with the normal stresses of parenting. Overall, however, adoptive women are not as depressed as postpartum mothers, when many measures are assessed.


Further Reading

Last Updated: Feb 27, 2019

Dr. Liji Thomas

Written by

Dr. Liji Thomas

Dr. Liji Thomas is an OB-GYN, who graduated from the Government Medical College, University of Calicut, Kerala, in 2001. Liji practiced as a full-time consultant in obstetrics/gynecology in a private hospital for a few years following her graduation. She has counseled hundreds of patients facing issues from pregnancy-related problems and infertility, and has been in charge of over 2,000 deliveries, striving always to achieve a normal delivery rather than operative.


Please use one of the following formats to cite this article in your essay, paper or report:

  • APA

    Thomas, Liji. (2019, February 27). Symptoms of Post-Adoption Depression. News-Medical. Retrieved on July 23, 2024 from

  • MLA

    Thomas, Liji. "Symptoms of Post-Adoption Depression". News-Medical. 23 July 2024. <>.

  • Chicago

    Thomas, Liji. "Symptoms of Post-Adoption Depression". News-Medical. (accessed July 23, 2024).

  • Harvard

    Thomas, Liji. 2019. Symptoms of Post-Adoption Depression. News-Medical, viewed 23 July 2024,


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
Post a new comment

While we only use edited and approved content for Azthena answers, it may on occasions provide incorrect responses. Please confirm any data provided with the related suppliers or authors. We do not provide medical advice, if you search for medical information you must always consult a medical professional before acting on any information provided.

Your questions, but not your email details will be shared with OpenAI and retained for 30 days in accordance with their privacy principles.

Please do not ask questions that use sensitive or confidential information.

Read the full Terms & Conditions.