Thursday, January 10, 2013

Postpartum Depression (PPD) Day 2: Risk Factors

Yesterday, I began a 4-day series on Postpartum Depression or PPD. Today I want to give as comprehensive a list as I can on potential risk factors. Of course, just because someone has some of these doesn't mean they'll experience PPD and just because they don't have any doesn't mean they won't.

But it will at least give you an idea of what might make it more likely and be aware of these whenever someone you know is pregnant. I compiled these from the following websites: Mayo Clinic,, Postpartum Support International, Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance , the CDC and WebMD.

Note: Postpartum depression can develop after the birth of any child, not just the first.
  • A personal history of depression, anxiety, panic attacks, obsessive thoughts or behavior, mania, either during pregnancy or at other times in life. 
  • Previous premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), which is the severe type of premenstrual syndrome (PMS).
  • Family history of depression and/or anxiety.
  • Family history of postpartum depression in particular, whether your mother or another close relative. 
  • Pregnancy complications, premature delivery or delivery problems such as an unplanned emergency c-section.
  • History of thyroid or hormonal problems.
  • Having experienced infertility and/or taken infertility treatments. 
  • Women with any form of diabetes (type 1, type 2 or gestational).
  • Relationship problems with spouse or significant other.
  • A weak support system/social or family support network, or support from partner (Several of the women I talked to as a volunteer with PSI had spouses with very demanding or non-traditional work schedules, for example night and weekend work, long hours).
  • Single parent/living alone. 
  • Teen pregnancy. 
  • Stressful events or big life changes during the past year, such as loss of loved one, a move, serious illness or job loss.
  • Financial or housing problems.
  • Unplanned or unwanted pregnancy.
  • Low confidence as parent or wanting to be "super woman" or "super mom." 
  • High life stress, such as a sick or colicky newborn, financial troubles, or family problems.
  • Mothers of multiples.
  • Mothers whose infants have birth defects, or are in Neonatal Intensive Care (NICU), or health problems with the baby after birth.
  • Mothers with physical or health problems following the birth.
  • Breastfeeding problems.
Tomorrow, Signs and Symptoms

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