I’m about to have a baby and have had depression in the past. Am I at risk for postpartum depression?
A history of depression is a known risk factor for postpartum disorder. However, it is important to remember that the meaning of a risk factor is that it statistically increases the probability of developing a certain disorder. It does not mean that there is a definite causal link between the risk factor and the disorder. That is, not every woman with a history of depression will develop postpartum depression. But, if you had depression in the past, it is important that you are aware of the elevated risk, and that you talk to your doctor/health care professional if you feel distressed.
There are other known risk factors for postpartum depression beside a history of depression. Other risk factors include anxiety, not having much social support, and a history of abuse. Another significant risk factor for postpartum depression is disturbed sleep during pregnancy. Unfortunately, sleep disturbances are often treated as common and temporary symptoms during pregnancy and as such are not always taken seriously. The truth is that sleep problems are prevalent during pregnancy and act as a significant risk factor for postpartum depression. The same is true if you are having sleep problems after the baby is born. It increases the likelihood that you will have postpartum depression. Fortunately, sleep problems such as insomnia, can often be treated with a brief and focused behavioral intervention.
If you are concerned about postpartum depression for yourself or someone you know, be sure to contact a health care provider.
About Dr. Liat Tikotzky