Risk Factors for Perinatal Mood
and Anxiety Disorders (PMADs)
Many factors can contribute to perinatal mood and anxiety disorders including changes in hormones, biology, psychology, and environment. These factors can vary from individual to individual and even from pregnancy to pregnancy for the same woman.
Factors that can contribute to perinatal mood and anxiety disorders (PMADs) are:
- the dramatic change in hormone levels occurring during pregnancy and postpartum
- previous postpartum or clinical depression
- family history of depression
- stresses of new motherhood
- sleep deprivation
- changes in thyroid function
Other risk factors include:
- unplanned pregnancy
- difficult pregnancy, labor, or delivery
- colicky, difficult, or demanding baby
- lack of social support after baby is born
- anxiety about returning to work
- issues surrounding breastfeeding
- recent life crisis, such as serious illness or death in the family
- unrealistic expectations, particularly about breastfeeding
- certain personality traits, including perfectionist tendencies or difficulty handling transitions
Wondering how to make sense of all this? Here are some good tools to help:
- Predictors and Risk Factors from PSVa lists the various factors that can contribute to a PMAD experience.
- PPD Risk Assessment During Pregnancy from The Postpartum Stress Center can be helpful to identify risk factors for a PMAD experience. NOTE: while this tool is titled “During Pregnancy” it is still of use for during the entire perinatal time frame.
- New Mom Checklist for Maternal Mental Health Help from Postpartum Progress is a checklist to facilitate helpful conversation between struggling mothers and professionals. This can help both mothers and their clinicians get a clear picture of how to best get treatment.