Background: Various factors have been reported to be associated with the development of postpartum mood disorders. The relationship between postpartum mood disorders and putatively hormone-related phenomena such as premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) is unclear. This study attempts to determine whether such mood phenomena are risk factors for postpartum mood disorders.
Methods: Postpartum women (n=1800) were assessed for risk factors for postpartum mood disorders during the first 2-4 days after parturition. Of these, 133 were defined as "high risk" and 109 as "low risk" according to fixed criteria. A structured phone diagnostic interview was performed at 6-8 weeks postpartum to assess for the presence of postpartum depression or the blues.
Results: Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), mood symptoms during the first 2-4 days postpartum, a past history of depression and mood symptoms during past oral contraceptive use, were found to be significant risk factors for postpartum mood disorders. Women at high risk for postpartum mood disorders had a 9.3-, 1.5-, 1.6- and 2.6-fold increase in risk for major depression, minor depression, the blues and adjustment disorder respectively compared to women at low risk.
Limitations: While the study design is prospective, it is limited by the retrospective assessment of risk factors.
Conclusions: This study provides preliminary evidence that putatively hormone-related phenomena such as PMDD are related to the occurrence of postpartum mood disorders. The results go some way to support the hypothesis that the etiology for postpartum mood disorders may be related to differential hormonal sensitivity. Such risk factors should be included in any assessment of the risk for these disorders.