Postpartum Depression in Women With PMS

Premenstrual syndrome doubled the risk for later postpartum depression in new moms

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Many women experience symptoms of depression after giving birth. Women that experience premenstrual syndrome (PMS) may have a higher risk for developing depression after delivery.

In a recent study, researchers asked a group of women that had given birth that year about any symptoms of depression they had after giving birth.

The results of the study showed that women who had PMS before pregnancy had double the risk for depression after giving birth compared to women that did not have PMS. 

"Seek help immediately for depression."

Melissa M. Buttner, a graduate student in clinical psychology from the Department of Psychology at the University of Iowa, led a study into potential risk factors for depression in women after giving birth.

According to the authors, roughly one in five women experience depression after giving birth, a condition known as postpartum depression.

The symptoms of postpartum depression can include low mood, loss of interest in fun activities, fatigue, feelings of guilt, trouble with sleep and concentration, loss of appetite, irritability and thoughts of suicide.

Previous studies have shown that age, education, marital status, history of mental illness and breastfeeding habits may all be risk factors for postpartum depression.

For this study, the researchers set out to determine whether premenstrual symptoms were a risk factor for postpartum depression.

Symptoms of (PMS) can include irritability, tension, lethargy and mood swings. More severe symptoms of anger, anxiety, tiredness and sharp mood swings that get in the way of work and social functioning have been labeled as premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD).

“Women with PMS have demonstrated symptoms as an abnormal response to normal hormone fluctuations,” the study authors wrote.

PMS and PMDD generally begin seven to 10 days before the start of the menstrual cycle and end within the first three days of the start of the cycle.

Previous studies have estimated that between 19 and 21 percent of women experience PMS and between 5 and 7 percent of women experience PMDD.

For this study, 478 women who had given birth in the past 12 months in the state of Iowa were asked to fill out surveys about any postpartum depressive symptoms and PMS or PMDD symptoms.

The results of the study showed that the women were almost two and a half times more likely to have postpartum depression if they were single and nearly three times more likely if they were an ethnic/racial minority.

Women who did not breastfeed had nearly double the risk for postpartum depression compared to women who did breastfeed.

Women who had reported moderate to severe symptoms of PMS or PMDD prior to becoming pregnant were twice as likely to have postpartum depression compared to women with mild or no PMS.

The study authors posed that the hormone changes that occur before the menstrual cycle begins, which contribute to PMS and PMDD symptoms, could be similar to hormone changes that occur just before and after giving birth.

These hormone surges could interfere with the proper function of the brain chemical serotonin, which has been tied to depression.

The authors recommended further studies to investigate PMS and PMDD symptoms as risk factors for postpartum depression.

The study authors also suggested that women with a history of PMS or PMDD should be monitored just before and after childbirth for postpartum depression.

This study was published in June in Archives of Women’s Mental Health.

The National Institute of Mental Health helped support funding for this project. No conflicts of interest were declared. 

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
June 5, 2013
Last Updated:
August 7, 2013