Robert Kennedy, Kelley Suttenfield

In This Article

Risk Factors

Biological risk factors that contribute to the development of PPD include:

  1. A history of depression in previous pregnancies or postpartum period. Women with previous pregnancy-related depressive episodes are at a 50% to 62% increased risk of recurrent episodes with subsequent pregnancies.[5]

  2. A previous history of depression. Up to 30% of women who have experienced a major depressive episode prior to conception will develop PPD.[15]

  3. A history of depression in blood relatives. The risk of depression is higher with a positive family history and is greatest if a relative experienced a PPD.[7,8]

  4. There are several other psychosocial risk factors that may contribute to a heightened risk of depression in both pregnancy and the postpartum period. These include poor social support, adverse life events, marital instability, and ambivalence towards the pregnancy.[7,8,11,15]

In an often-cited study by Kendall


concerning affective disorder in the puerperium, a sharp increase in psychiatric admissions during the first 3 months after delivery was demonstrated. Women at highest risk were those with a history of a mood disorder or those who experienced depression during pregnancy.


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