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Risk Factors

history of depression; history of anxiety; history of other psychiatric disorders; postpartum blues; relationship problems with partner; low social support; stressful life events; low self-esteem.

History of Depression

  • During pregnancy1-8
  • After previous childbirth8
  • At any other time1,6,8-11

History of Anxiety

  • During pregnancy1,3,4,6,8
  • At any other time6-8,12,13

Other Psychiatric Disorders

  • History of other psychiatric disorders, including bipolar disorder and schizophrenia6-8,12,13  

Postpartum Blues

Marital Distress

  • Relationship problems with partner1,5,7,8

Low Social Support

  • Few people helping with infant care1,2
  • Few or no people to talk to about feelings and problems1,2,5-8,10

Stressful Life Events

  • Occurring during pregnancy or around the time of childbirth, including divorce1,5-8,10

Low Self-Esteem

  • Low confidence in abilities1,5


  1. Beck, C. T. (2001). Predictors of postpartum depression: An update. Nursing Research, 50(5), 275-285. Retrieved from https://auth.lib.unc.edu/ezproxy_auth.php?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=c8h&AN=2001108214&site=ehost-live&scope=site
  2. Herrick, H. (2002). Postpartum depression: Who gets help? Results from the Colorado, New York, and North Carolina PRAMS surveys 1997-1999. Retrieved from http://www.schs.state.nc.us/SCHS/pdf/SB24-1.pdf
  3. Heron, J., O’Connor, T. G., Evans, J., Golding, J., & Glover, V. (2004). The course of anxiety and depression through pregnancy and the postpartum in a community sample. Journal of Affective Disorders, 80(1), 65. doi: 10.1016/j.jad.2003.08.004
  4. Josefsson, A., Berg, G., Nordin, C., & Sydsjö, G. (2001). Prevalence of depressive symptoms in late pregnancy and postpartum. Acta Obstetricia & Gynecologica Scandinavica, 80(3), 251-255. doi:10.1034/j.1600-0412.2001.080003251.x
  5. Leigh, B., & Milgrom, J. (2008). Risk factors for antenatal depression, postnatal depression and parenting stress. BMC Psychiatry, 8 doi:10.1186/1471-244X-8-24
  6. National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, National Collaborating Center for Mental Health. (2007). Antenatal and postnatal mental health: Clinical management and service guidance. Retrieved from http://www.nice.org.uk/nicemedia/live/11004/30433/30433.pdf
  7. O’Hara, M. W., Swain A. M. (1996). Rates and risk of postpartum depression: A meta analysis. International Review of Psychiatry, 8, 37-54. Retrieved from https://auth-lib-unc-edu.libproxy.lib.unc.edu/ezproxy_auth.php?url=http://search.ebscohost.com.libproxy.lib.unc.edu/login.aspx?direct=true&db=flh&AN=MRB-FSD0069987&site=ehost-live&scope=site
  8. Robertson, E., Grace, S., Wallington, T., & Stewart, D. E. (2004). Antenatal risk factors for postpartum depression: A synthesis of recent literature. General Hospital Psychiatry, 26(4), 289-295. Retrieved from https://auth-lib-unc-edu.libproxy.lib.unc.edu/ezproxy_auth.php?url=http://search.ebscohost.com.libproxy.lib.unc.edu/login.aspx?direct=true&db=c8h&AN=2005031660&site=ehost-live&scope=site
  9. Henshaw, C., Foreman, D., & Cox, J. (2004). Postnatal blues: A risk factor for postnatal depression. Journal of Psychosomatic Obstetrics & Gynecology, 25(3), 267-272. doi: 10.1080/01674820400024414
  10. Dennis, C. E., Janssen, P. A., & Singer, J. (2004). Identifying women at-risk for postpartum depression in the immediate postpartum period. Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica, 110(5), 338-346. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0447.2004.00337.x
  11. McCoy, S., Beal, J. M., Saunders, B., Hill, E. N., Payton, M. E., & Watson, G. H. (2008). Risk factors for postpartum depression: A retrospective investigation. Journal of Reproductive Medicine, 53(3), 166-170. Retrieved from https://auth.lib.unc.edu/ezproxy_auth.php?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=c8h&AN=2009872699&site=ehost-live&scope=site
  12. Bansil, P., Kuklina, E. V., Meikle, S. F., Posner, S. F., Kourtis, A. P., Ellington, S. R., & Jamieson, D. J. (2010). Maternal and fetal outcomes among women with depression. Journal of Women’s Health, 19(2), 329-334. doi: 10.1089/jwh.2009.1387
  13. O’Mahen, H. A., Flynn, H. A., Chermack, S., & Marcus, S. (2009). Illness perceptions associated with perinatal depression treatment use. Archives of Women’s Mental Health, 12(6), 447-450. doi: 10.1007/s00737-009-0078-1
  14. Reck, C., Stehle, E., Reinig, K., & Mundt, C. (2009). Maternity blues as a predictor of DSM-IV depression and anxiety disorders in the first three months postpartum. Journal of Affective Disorders, 113, 77-87. doi: 10.1016/j.jad.2008.05.003

Last Updated July 19, 2011