There isn’t a single cause for postpartum depression. Rather, there are several factors that contribute to a woman developing the condition. For example, whether a new mom does or doesn’t experience postpartum depression depends largely on things like hormone levels, whether she’s delivered preterm and her baby is still in the hospital, genetic predisposition, and stress, all of which may contribute to postpartum depression.
Healthcare providers screen women for risk factors and determine each woman’s individual risk of developing the condition. Risk factors don’t determine which women will go through postpartum depression, but they can help providers determine which women are more likely to develop the condition, which in turn helps providers monitor those women more closely and get them treatment as quickly as possible if needed.
Not every woman with the following risk factors will develop postpartum depression. But a woman’s risk does increase if any of the following applies to her:
- A personal or family history of depression
- Mood problems, bipolar disorder, or another mental illness
- Feeling anxious or negative about the pregnancy
- Financial problems or unemployment
- Substance abuse
- Lack of emotional and social support
- A baby with health problems or other special needs
- Young age
- Preterm or complicated delivery resulting in a prolonged hospital stay for mom or baby
If postpartum depression is left untreated, the condition can have lasting effects on both the mother and baby, as well as other involved family members or friends. By remaining aware of a woman’s personal risk factors for postpartum depression, healthcare providers can ensure that those suffering from it get fast and effective treatment.
- “Postpartum depression facts.” NIMH. NIH Publication No. 13-8000 from National Institute of Mental Health, NIH, HHS, Jun 2016. Web.
- “Postpartum Depression.” ACOG. FAQ091 from American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Dec 2013. Web.
- Mayo Clinic Staff. “Postpartum Depression.” MayoClinic. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, Aug 11 2015. Web.
- “The Facts About Postpartum Depression.” PostpartumProgress. Postpartum Progress Inc., 2016. Web.