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What are the risk factors for depression and anxiety during pregnancy or after birth?

Depression​ and anxiety during pregnancy or after birth can happen to anyone. However, several factors make some women more likely than others to experience one or both of these conditions. These risk factors include:

  • A history of depression or anxiety, either during pregnancy or at other times
  • Family history of depression or anxiety
  • A difficult pregnancy or birth experience
  • Giving birth to twins or other multiples
  • Experiencing problems in your relationship with your partner
  • Experiencing financial problems
  • Receiving little or no support from family or friends to help you care for your baby
  • Unplanned pregnancy

Depression and anxiety during pregnancy or after birth don’t happen because of something you do or don’t do—they are medical conditions. Although we don’t fully understand the causes of these conditions, researchers think depression and anxiety during this time may result from a mix of physical, emotional, and environmental factors.

2 comments

  1. laker Reply

    Are you talking about postpartum depression?
    Postpartum depression is one name you might hear for depre​ssion and anxiety that can happen during and after pregnancy. But it might not be the best way to describe what women feel.

    The word “postpartum” means “after birth,” so “postpartum depression” is talking only about depression after the baby is born. For many women, this term is correct: they start feeling depression sometime within the first year after they have the baby.

    But research shows that some women start to feel depression while they’re still pregnant. You might hear the term “perinatal depression” to describe this situation. The word “perinatal” describes the time during pregnancy or just after birth.

    Researchers believe that depression is one of the most common problems women experience during and after pregnancy.

    We now know that women may also experience anxiety around the time of pregnancy, beyond just being nervous about having a baby. Anxiety during and after pregnancy is as common as depression and may even happen at the same time as depression. So, you also may hear “perinatal depression and anxiety” or “perinatal mood and anxiety disorders” used to describe all of what women might feel.

    No matter what you call them, depression and anxiety that happen during pregnancy or after birth are real medical conditions, and they affect many women.

  2. laker Reply

    Are there treatments for depression or anxiety during pregnancy or after birth?
    Depression and anxiety will not go away on their own. With treatment, there is hope.​
    Yes, there are treatments, and they can help you feel better. Treatment can reduce your symptoms or make them go away completely.

    Many treatment options are available for depression or anxiety during pregnancy or after birth. Some women may participate in counseling (“talk therapy”); others may need medication. There is no single treatment that works for everyone.

    Your provider may ask you a set of questions, called a screening, to learn more about what you are feeling. Together, you can find the treatment that is right for you. Some treatments for depression and anxiety that occur during or after pregnancy are listed below.

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