Mood disorders can affect anyone - of any age, race, or income - anytime during pregnancy or the first year after birth. However, there are some factors that may put you at a higher risk. Knowing more can help you seek help early or put a plan in place to help create a system of support.
The biggest risk factor is simply the normal hormonal and physical changes that occur after birth, so perinatal mood disorders can affect anyone. Bringing a new baby into the home changes your body, relationships, and entire identity - no wonder so many of us need a helping hand along the way!
For more information on risk factors, Postpartum Progress also has a helpful article on their website.
personal and health history
- Personal or family history of mental illness, including seasonal affective disorder (SAD)
- Extreme PMS symptoms
- Difficulty conceiving or a history of pregnancy losses
- Thyroid or hormonal issues
- Previous perinatal mood disorders
- Personal history of trauma as a child, such as abuse, loss of a parent, or difficult relationships with your own parents
- Survivor of other traumas, such as domestic violence or assault
- Tendency towards perfectionism - and high expectations of self as a parent. The "super mom" doesn't exist!
- Recent stresses, like divorce, relationship difficulty, death, moving, or losing a job
- Ongoing stresses are also a big factor, such as poverty, housing issues, difficulty getting enough food, or feeling overwhelmed with other children
- Limited support from partner, friends, or family
during perinatal period
- Pregnancy was unplanned or unwanted
- A complicated or difficult pregnancy
- A traumatic birth experience, such as an emergency C-section, complications during delivery, or any other situation where you felt out of control, violated, or frightened
- You or baby have health concerns after birth
- Baby is in NICU, has a disability, or is difficult to soothe
- You delivered or are the parent of multiples
- Difficulty breastfeeding, if you had hoped to do so
- The normal losses and changes in identity that come with parenthood.