Women at risk for postpartum-onset major depression

Am J Obstet Gynecol. 1995 Aug;173(2):639-45. doi: 10.1016/0002-9378(95)90296-1.


There is considerable evidence that the childbearing years represent a time when women are highly vulnerable to developing mood disorders. Prospective, cross-sectional, and retrospective studies have demonstrated that more than 10% of new adult mothers will experience a major depressive episode during the first postpartum year. Changes in the health care delivery system will result in increased pressure on the obstetrician/gynecologist to identify and treat women with postpartum-onset depression. Despite shortcomings in the available literature, prospective studies have identified risk factors for developing postpartum depression. Furthermore, the clear overlap between the normal sequelae of childbirth and the symptoms of major depression, including alterations in sleep, energy, libido, appetite, and body weight, underscores the need to develop guidelines for early identification. We furnish a brief overview of postpartum mood disorders with a primary focus on the antenatal and postnatal risk factors for developing postpartum depression. Based on the extent literature and our clinical experience, a set of recommendations for early identification and treatment is provided.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Depressive Disorder / etiology*
  • Depressive Disorder / therapy
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Puerperal Disorders / etiology*
  • Puerperal Disorders / psychology
  • Puerperal Disorders / therapy
  • Risk Factors