Statistics of Postpartum Depression
Postpartum depression is a condition that takes many forms and can remain undiagnosed for long periods of time. Since awareness of postpartum depression first came to the surface in the late 1980’s many studies have been conducted on the prevalence, risk factors and treatment success rates of postpartum depression among the world’s population.
From these studies, a number of statistics have been gleaned to help shed light on the pervasiveness and magnitude of this global mental health issue.
Below are some of the top statistics from a number of studies and sources conducted over the past several decades.
Statistics on Rates of PPD
While the exact rate of postpartum depression is unknown, there are some generally agreed upon statistics regarding the number of women who are reported to experience postpartum depression annually.
Here are some statistics regarding postpartum depression rates in the United States alone:
- Approximately 70%- 80% of women will experience, at a minimum, the baby blues and many more will experience the more severe condition of postpartum depression and its other subtypes.
- It is estimated that the reported rate of clinical postpartum depression among women is between 10%-20% of all live births.
- One recent study found that 1 in 7 women can expect to experience depression in the year following giving birth.
- With approximately 4 million live births occurring each year in the United States, this equates to approximately 600,000 individual postpartum depression diagnoses.
It’s important to understand that these numbers look at live births alone. The fact is, many women who miscarry or have stillbirths experience postpartum depression symptoms as well.
- When we take into consideration the possibility that postpartum depression can occur in women who have miscarried or have had a stillbirth, the number is much greater – at around 900,000 individuals annually.
Postpartum depression is a global issue as well:
- If looked at on a global scale, accounting for all countries, the prevalence of postpartum depression worldwide is potentially in the tens if not hundreds of millions annually.
- One study has found that postpartum depression rates in Asian countries could be at 65% or greater among new mothers.]
Sadly, it is believed that postpartum depression is much more common than these statistics reveal. Some medical experts believe that the rate of postpartum depression could be at least twice as much as what is actually reported and diagnosed. If symptoms go undetected, unreported and untreated, they cannot be accounted for in global health statistics.
Other important facts to consider about postpartum depression are that it can affect all races, ethnicities, cultures, education and socioeconomic levels. And postpartum depression doesn’t only affect new mothers. It can affect fathers and adoptive parents as well:
- It has been recorded that approximately 10% of new fathers experience depression symptoms as well during the postpartum period.
- Half of men who have partners with postpartum depression will go on to develop depression themselves.
Some studies have shown that rates of PPD in adoptive parents are comparable to PPD rates in biological mothers. The stressors that are faced by adoptive parents are different than those faced by biological parents. Because there is still a societal stigma around adoptive families, the rates of PPD could be higher in adoptive parents as many suffer in silence with their symptoms.
- One study found that roughly 8% of adoptive parents experienced severe PPD as compared to biological mothers in the same study who experienced PPD at a rate of 16.5%.
Statistics on PPD Risk Factors
There is no one known cause of postpartum depression. Instead, there are a number of risk factors associated with the likelihood of developing PPD.
Here are some statistics regarding specific PPD risk factors.
- Women with a history of depression or anxiety disorders, as well as serious mood disorders such as bipolar disorder are 30%-35% more likely to develop postpartum depression.
- If a woman has experienced postpartum depression with previous births, she is 10%-50% more likely to experience it again with following births.
- It is believed that 50% of women who develop postpartum depression actually began experiencing symptoms during pregnancy. This proves the case for early symptom-recognition, awareness and access to treatment.
- While PPD can affect people of all backgrounds, low socioeconomic status, poverty and poor access to education and healthcare are thought to lead to a PPD rate of 25% among this population demographic. One study found that women with low socioeconomic status were 11 times more likely to develop PPD symptoms than women with higher socioeconomic statuses.
Statistics on PPD Types
Part of building postpartum depression awareness is the understanding that this condition can take many forms. Here are some statistics regarding the rates and risk factors of specific types of postpartum depression:
- Between 1 and 2 women in every 1,000 will develop postpartum psychosis – a severe and potentially deadly disorder.
- Women who have a history of bipolar disorder are 40% more likely to develop postpartum psychosis.
- Tragically, 10% of postpartum psychosis cases result in suicide or infanticide.
- One study found that over 60% of women with postpartum depression also had signs of developing an anxiety disorder, which isn’t always a condition associated with depression.
- Postpartum Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is believed to occur in 3%-5% of childbearing women.
Statistics on PPD Treatment
Ongoing, controlled and professional treatment for postpartum depression is effective at managing and healing the condition over time. It is believed that while there are several diagnosed cases of postpartum depression, only a limited number of women actually seek and receive treatment. But treatment is vital as the overall success rate for treating general depression is at 80%.
As with all forms of mental health conditions, early recognition and treatment of postpartum depression leads to a high recovery rate that includes faster and better management of symptoms.
From these facts and statistics it’s easy to see how prevalent postpartum depression is not just in North American society but around the world. Education and awareness, screening and risk prediction, as well as early diagnosis and treatment can all help to improve these concerning numbers in order to better manage the health and wellbeing of new parents.