There's not an exact answer to this question. We do know that women who are younger (early 20's) and who have experienced depression prior to having a baby or during their pregnancy are at higher risk. You're also at risk if your family has a history of depression or other mood disorders (even if they were not treated for these disorders). Most importantly, a woman will be high risk for PPD if she's recently had stressful events occur in her life. These can include:
- health problems during pregnancy, a difficult pregnancy, or if the baby was born with health concerns
- A death of a loved one
- If a loved one has been diagnosed with an illness
- Relationship issues with your significant other - including but not limited to infidelity, abuse, addiction, job loss, etc.
- Decreased support during the pregnancy from family or friends
- Financial issues
- If the pregnancy was unplanned
- Trouble adjusting to motherhood
- You yourself struggling with addiction (alcohol, smoking, pills, etc...)
After childbirth, a woman's body goes through a lot of changes in hormones. This too can cause PPD. 24 hours after childbirth a woman's hormones quickly go back to their normal levels, but this quick drop in hormones can lead to PPD.
For first-time parents, it's natural to question your abilities. However, if you're having negative thoughts and feelings about being a mom, this can lead to PPD and you need to speak to your doctor.
Talk to your doctor if:
- you doubt you'll be a good mom
- you put pressure on yourself to be the perfect mom
- you believe you'll "lose" the person you were before the baby came along
- you believe you're less attractive than you were before
- you have no free time for yourself
- you are not getting enough sleep or quality sleep
Your doctor, family, friends and loved ones are there to help you. PPD is not to be taken lightly and you are not alone. If you are currently having any of these thoughts, or recognize these statements in anyone you love, please talk to your doctor, or ask your loved one to speak to a professional.
We have lots more information to share with you about PPD. Please check back in as we cover this very important topic.
*Source: March of Dimes “Postpartum Feelings” from www.marchofdimes.com
Written by: Tamara Wilhelm MA, LMHC, LCAC
*Tamara enjoys doing marriage counseling, individual counseling, & couples counseling at Imagine Hope. We also specialize in family counseling, child & adolescent counseling. Imagine Hope serves the Indianapolis area, including the surrounding areas of Carmel, Noblesville, Zionsville, Westfield & Fishers.