Risk factors for early postpartum depressive symptoms

Gen Hosp Psychiatry. Jan-Feb 2006;28(1):3-8. doi: 10.1016/j.genhosppsych.2005.08.006.


Objective: Postpartum depressive disorders are common and symptoms may appear as early as the first 2 weeks postpartum. Data regarding hormone-related risk factors for depressive symptoms occurring in the very early postpartum period are scarce and may be of importance in identifying serious postpartum illness. We examined the association between the reported history of psychiatric symptoms of possible hormonal etiology and very early postpartum depressive symptoms.

Methods: All women (n= 1,800) in a general hospital maternity ward were assessed during the first 3 days after parturition for potential risk factors for postpartum depressive disorders by a self-reported questionnaire and for present mood symptoms (Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale, EPDS). The associations between potential risk factors and postpartum depressive symptoms were analysed.

Results: The incidence of women with an EPDS >or=10 was 6.8% (88/1,286). Significant risk factors for early postpartum depressive symptoms were a history of mental illness including past postpartum depression (PPD), premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), and mood symptoms during the third trimester.

Conclusion: In accordance with other studies, a history of depression was found to be a risk factor for early postpartum mood symptoms. An association was also found between some risk factors of possible hormone-related etiology such as PMDD and third trimester mood symptoms and early postpartum mood symptoms. As such, early postpartum symptoms may indicate vulnerability to subsequent PPD; it may be of importance to assess these risk factors and mood immediately after parturition. A prospective study is needed to determine which of these risk factors is associated with progression to PPD and which resolves as the blues.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Comorbidity
  • Depression, Postpartum / diagnosis
  • Depression, Postpartum / epidemiology
  • Depression, Postpartum / etiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Mood Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Postnatal Care
  • Pregnancy / psychology*
  • Pregnancy Complications*
  • Premenstrual Syndrome / epidemiology*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires