Women are becoming more and more aware of the potential for postpartum depression or anxiety. Simultaneously, experts are becoming more adept at predicting with increasing accuracy who may be at a higher risk for a difficult postpartum period.
Knowing the risk factors and where you stand in relation to them can empower you to spend some time prenatally creating a plan to minimize your risk and to prepare for treatment if the postpartum period is a difficult one.
The highest risk factor for PPMD is a previous history of PPMD. Based on this information, I have dedicated much of my work to helping women who are pregnant after having a PPMD to develop plans with the goal of avoiding the same degree of struggle they experienced during an earlier postpartum period.
What follows is a list of the other most common risk factors. There may be additional circumstances present in an individual woman’s life, outside this list, that can also be identified as risk factors.
- A personal history of depression, panic, anxiety, OCD, bipolar disorder, psychosis, drug abuse/alcoholism or an eating disorder
- Current or past need for psychotropic medication or herbs for mood stabilization
- History of severe premenstrual mood changes (PMS or PMDD)
- Family history of mental illness, drug addiction or alcoholism
- Currently smoking
- Inadequate emotional and/or physical support
- History of trauma (sexual abuse, birth-related trauma, physical abuse, etc.)
- Major life stressors (i.e.: recent move, job change, death of a loved one, financial stress)
- Health problems for the mother or the fetus/baby
- Personal or family history of thyroid disorder
Excerpt from: Bennett, S., Indman, P. Beyond the Blues, A Guide to Understanding and Treating Prenatal and Postpartum Depression, Moodswings Press, 2006, pg 78-80
If you would like to talk more about your risk factors for PPMDs, please feel free to contact me as soon as you would like to.