Most pregnant women don’t think of postpartum depression as a possibility in their lives. However, the statistics show that as many as 1 in 7 new mothers experience PPD. This group comprises around 14% of the postnatal population.
While there’s no way to guarantee the development of postpartum depression in a budding mother, there are signs which indicate a greater risk for postpartum depression. Curious as to the risk factors for postpartum depression? This article has you covered.
Common Risk Factors for Postpartum Depression
While any pregnant woman has the potential to develop postpartum depression, some women are more vulnerable to the condition than others. The women who are most prone to PPD generally experience one of the following.
1. Prenatal Depression
Sometimes called antepartum depression, prenatal depression is a form of depression experienced during pregnancy. Prenatal depression is caused by a number of different factors, including everything from morning sickness, to rapidly fluctuating hormones, to pregnancy-related anxiety, and more.
Unfortunately for those who suffer from prenatal depression, postpartum depression often follows. In fact, having prenatal depression is one of the top risk factors for postpartum depression.
This is why, if you’re suffering from prenatal depression, you need to begin engaging in mental health counseling as soon as possible.
2. A History of Depression
As you might expect, those with a history of depression are more prone to postpartum depression than are others. Therefore, if you’ve experienced depressive episodes in the past, you need to be prepared to experience them after you’ve had your baby as well.
Note, however, that your bouts of postpartum depression won’t necessarily mimic your other bouts of depression. Because hormones tend to fluctuate violently after the birth of a baby, the effects of postpartum depression are often more severe.
So, even if you’ve experienced depression in the past, you might find that postpartum depression completely overwhelms you.
3. A History of Anxiety
Not only is a history of depression a risk factor for postpartum depression, but a history of anxiety as well. Anxious feelings are typically heightened during and after pregnancy, and can very often overwhelm affected women.
In some cases, the mental weight of postpartum anxiety can lead new mothers to believe that they’re incompetent. These feelings of incompetence will sometimes turn into feelings of hopelessness, spurring on postpartum depression and pushing a vicious cycle into motion.
If you suffer from anxiety, you’re advised to seek regular psychological counseling throughout your pregnancy. This counseling could be vital in helping you to safely transition into motherhood.
4. Little Social Support
Pregnancy and motherhood can be beautiful things. However, they’re not all candy and roses. There is a great deal of physical and psychological stress involved with both, and without a proper support system, it can be difficult to make it through unscathed.
In other words, those with little social support are especially prone to postpartum depression. It’s not just that new moms need a helping hand in taking care of the baby. It’s that they need a welcoming ear to speak to as well.
Both friend and familial support are important. So lean on your family members, stay close with your friends, and consider joining a few online pregnancy groups. Maintaining a strong social foundation can make all the difference in the world.
5. Low Self-Esteem
Another risk factor for postpartum depression is low self-esteem. Those with low self-esteem struggle with feelings of incompetence. And because they struggle with these feelings, they often believe themselves unworthy of good things.
This mindset can manifest itself on an extreme level after the birth of a child. The affected individual could have doubts about her ability to be a good mother, bringing on feelings of despair and hopelessness. When these feelings present themselves, so too does postpartum depression.
It’s important to note that chronic low self-esteem could be the symptom of an existing mental illness. This is why those with low self-esteem are advised to seek psychological counseling.
6. Poor Spousal Relationship
As was noted above, it’s important for new and expecting mothers to have strong social foundations. Friends and family are important during both the pre and post-natal periods.
However, while the relationships an expecting mother has with her family and friends are important, the most important relationship is the one she has with her spouse.
This stands to reason, as the spouse comprises 50% of the expected baby’s primary caretaker team. If a pregnant woman feels as though she can’t rely on her spouse, she’s going to have a difficult time maintaining a positive mindset during the pregnancy.
This is why a poor spousal relationship is one of the biggest risk factors for postpartum depression. It creates uncertainty from the beginning of the pregnancy on, an uncertainty that lays the groundwork for PPD.
7. Unexpected Pregnancy
While even the most excited of expecting mothers can develop postpartum depression, the mothers who are most prone to it are those who experience an unexpected pregnancy. This is often due to the fact that an unexpected pregnancy can derail expectations a woman has for her life.
For example, if a young, expecting mother has plans of going away to college, but then experiences an unexpected pregnancy, her dreams of going away to college could be dashed. While she might adjust positively to this change of plans, she might not either.
If she doesn’t, she could end up developing postpartum depression once her baby is born.
In Need of Psychological Counseling in Beverly Hills, Irvine, and Newport Beach?
Do you display any of the risk factors for postpartum depression? Looking to be proactive in combating the condition? If so, you should consider seeing a psychologist.
In need of a psychologist in Los Angeles, California? The psychologists with Blair Wellness Group are the people to see.
Schedule an appointment by contacting us now!