Risk Factors for Postpartum Distress

Interesting study shows a significant association between stressful life events and postpartum depression, anxiety, and stress disorders (postpartum distress). It’s nice to see more research on postpartum stress and anxiety in addition to depressive responses.  Researchers studied the co-morbidity of 3 major postpartum negative emotional states as separate phenomena (Depression Anxiety Stress Scale (DASS-21).

This study included Arab women who were within 6 mos postpartum and visited primary healthcare settings.

The study shows specific life events and stressors are more correlated with depression, anxiety and stress.

  1. Young mothers and those with higher education were more depressed , anxious and under stress.
  2. Postpartum working moms were more stressed and anxious, while “housewives” (wow what an outdated term!) were more depressed.
  3. Almost half of the mothers who were depressed reported at least one stressful life event in their postpartum period, (e.g. low income or unplanned pregnancy).
  4. The authors note that unplanned pregnancy was the major link to postpartum depression.
  5. Lack of family support was the major link to postpartum anxiety.
  6. For postpartum stress, older moms (40 to 45 yrs) and unsatisfying marriage were the factors.
Int J Womens Health. 2012;4:191-200. Epub 2012 May 10.
Prevalence of psychiatric disorders and associated risk factors in women during their postpartum period: a major public health problem and global comparison.
Bener AGerber LMSheikh J. Department of Medical Statistics and Epidemiology, Hamad Medical Corporation, Hamad General Hospital, Qatar.

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