Which Women Are At Greater Risk?Wednesday, March 21, 2012 - 15:55
A woman's risk for depression after pregnancy cannot be accurately predicted based on her hormone levels. But some women may be at higher risk for postpartum depression. These include women who:
- Have had a previous postpartum episode. Women who have experienced postpartum depression after the birth of a child may have a greater chance of having the same problem again.
- Had a traumatic birth experience. Women who have had a difficult labor and delivery may be more prone to depression after pregnancy.
- Experienced prebirth (antepartum) depression. Women who have experienced depression, mood swings, and panic attacks while pregnant may be at greater risk for experiencing those feelings after delivery.
- Have experienced depression unrelated to pregnancy. Women who have had a previous mood disorder may have a greater chance of experiencing postpartum depression.
- Have a mother or sister who suffered from postpartum depression. The condition seems to run in families.
- Have had a recent stressful life event or major life change. Losing a job or home, marital difficulties, the death of someone close to you, or other stressful life events may worsen the effects of a drop in hormone levels after delivery.
- Have a history of extreme premenstrual syndrome (PMS). Women who suffer from severe PMS may be more susceptible to hormonal imbalances after birth.
Having a Baby, and a Life, Too
You knew your life would change after you had a baby. You just didn't realize the range of emotions you would feel. Having a baby challenges your sense of control, and this may leave you depleted and overwhelmed. Sometimes you may even feel resentful, wishing you could return to your pre-baby life. The following exercise will help you identify what is missing and may help you to identify some changes you can make to regain a sense of control:
Choosing a few specific activities to restore to your life can help you to regain a sense of balance in your life, and it may help you shake those baby blues.
What Should You Do If You're At Risk?
To reduce your risk of depression after pregnancy, learn as much as you can about the responsibilities of parenthood before the baby arrives. Read parenting books and magazines and interact with other couples who are experienced parents. If you are at high risk for postpartum depression, it may be wise to identify a therapist during your pregnancy.
Before you give birth, develop a good postpartum plan. A good postpartum plan can also help to reduce the emotional upheaval many women experience following childbirth. The plan should include specific ways to:
Need To Know:
What if it's too late for a postpartum plan and you're in the throes of depression? Find a quiet half-hour with a spouse, friend, or family member to identify stress factors and brainstorm solutions. You can't solve everything all at once, but you can take positive steps toward feeling better if you simply slow down and work things through. Having someone do this exercise with you will help you remain more objective even though you are feeling overwhelmed and trapped.
Tips to Relax
A few minutes of quiet time each day can help to reduce your risk of depression after pregnancy, or to restore equilibrium to your life if you are feeling blue. Here are some simple exercises you can do: