Pregnancy and Parenting Features

Does a Mother’s Age Affect Postpartum Depression?

Journey through Insanity
Creative Commons License photo credit: Shameful Cacoethes

Conventional wisdom regarding postpartum depression tells us that older women are more likely to experience problems than younger women. Recent studies, however, seem to contradict this.

One study conducted in Australia compared occurrences of postpartum depression amongst first time mothers based upon their ages. The study involved more than 500 women, each pregnant with her first child. The results showed no appreciable difference in the likelihood of postpartum depression amongst women over 36 and women 36 and younger.

The study considered both women who had conceived with the help of fertility treatment and those who had become pregnant naturally. One of the surprises of the study was that older women actually had a slightly lower chance of experiencing significant depression during the first four months after delivery.

Age Doesn’t Contribute, but Other Factors Common to Older Moms Can

Pregnant women in their late 30s or 40s do, of course, experience a higher likelihood of other complications, including:

  • High blood pressure
  • Gestational diabetes
  • Stillbirth
  • C-Section birth

Some of these conditions have been linked to postpartum. Anyone who has experienced these symptoms should be aware of the potential for postpartum. Stay in regular contact with your doctor. Make sure to inform her if you experience any depression-like symptoms.

Know What to Look For

Symptoms of post partum depression include:

  • Hopelessness, emptiness.
  • Losing enjoyment of all or nearly all activities.
  • Abnormal change of appetite and/or weight.
  • Insomnia, trouble sleeping while baby is asleep.
  • Restlessness or sluggishness.
  • Fatigue.
  • Feeling guilty or worthless.
  • Inability to concentrate or indecisiveness.
  • Suicidal thoughts.
  • Thoughts of harming the baby.

If you experience any of these symptoms, regardless of your age, see your doctor as soon as possible.

Don’t Take Chances with Postpartum Depression

Postpartum depression occurs to one degree or another in about 10% of all pregnancies. You are not alone and there is help available. Don’t be afraid to let your doctor or another caring person know what you are going through. After all, aren’t your safety and the safety of your baby the most important things, regardless of how old you are when you give birth?