I just love the The Postpartum Stress Center site. One great tool on the site is a PPD risk assessment for women who are pregnant or planning to be pregnant. It's a good way to become educated on various factors that could predispose you to experiencing a postpartum mood disorder. For example, the following are some of the factors listed in the assessment:
- I have had a previous episode of postpartum depression and/or anxiety that was successfully treated with therapy and/or medication.
- I might have experienced symptoms of postpartum depression following previous births, but I never sought professional help.
- I have had one or more pregnancy losses.
- I have a history of depression/anxiety that was not related to childbirth.
- I have lost a child.
- I have been a victim of the following:
Childhood sexual abuse
Childhood physical abuse
Physical assault by someone I know
Physical assault by a stranger
Physical assault during this pregnancy
Sexual assault by someone I know
Sexual assault by a stranger
- There is a family history of depression/anxiety, treated or untreated.
- I have a history of severe PMS.
- I do not have a strong support system to help me if I need it.
- I have a history of drug or alcohol abuse.
- People have told me I'm a perfectionist.
- During the past year, I have experienced an unusual amount of stress (ex: Move, job loss, divorce, loss of loved one)
I find this list so interesting and wish I'd had it back in the day. For example, the perfectionist issue -- who would have thought that being a perfectionist could raise your risk for having PPD? But, I can totally see it and how that overwhelming feeling that you're not doing everything you should be doing for your newborn, the household, other kids who need your attention, etc., etc., is devastating to a perfectionist who is used to having everything all put together perfectly.
And what about a history of severe PMS? That's such a huge and common issue. According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, approximately 40% of women experience PMS on a consistent basis.