Risk factors for postnatal depression

Risk factors for postnatal depression


There are a number of risk factors for postnatal depression that are well-established in the scientific literature. These include the following:

  • An unplanned pregnancy
  • A difficult pregnancy
  • Being a younger mother (under 25 years)
  • Smoking
  • Having financial difficulties
  • Being overweight
  • A difficult or traumatic birth
  • Being single
  • Relationship problems
  • Domestic violence
  • Poor nutrition during pregnancy
  • Lacking social supports
  • Stressful life events
  • A history of anxiety or depression
  • Past pregnancy loss
  • And, a history of fertility issues

Unfortunately, a number of these risk factors are outside of your control and cannot be helped. If you have multiple risk factors present during pregnancy, it may well be worth considering what you can do to manage or decrease these. For example: assuming your morning sickness has settled down (and you don’t have hyperemesis), can you work on eating well and nutritiously? Pregnancy depletes the body of nutrient reserves, so having a balanced diet and taking vitamin supplements could be one simple step in the right direction. If you lack social supports, can you seek professional supports to help mitigate this, whom could also support you to build social networks? Could you use professional supports (such as seeing a psychologist) to work through the impacts of past pregnancy loss and fertility challenges?

It is never too late to take steps to help your mental health. This can be done proactively, for example, during pregnancy to help minimise the risk of postnatal depression. If you already have postnatal depression, seeking help can start you on your recovery journey.

Read More