Risk Factors for Postpartum Mood Disorders

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.

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