Does Where You Live Affect Your Risk for Postpartum Depression?

Photo: Thinkstock / The Bump
Photo: Thinkstock / The Bump

According to the latest research from Canada, researchers found that women living in large urban areas are more likely than their peers living in rural areas to develop postpartum depression.

The study, published in the Canadian medical journal CMAJ, found that the risk factors for postpartum depression (like low levels of social support) are more common among women living in urban areas than women living in rural areas. Lead researcher, According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, between 10 and 15 percent of women develop persistent, serious depression during the first year after their baby’s birth.

Dr. Simone Vigod, lead researcher from the Women’s College Research Institute in Toronto, and her colleagues looked at data from a 2006 survey of 6,126 new mothers to determine whether where they lived might influence their postpartum depression risk. From the survey, Vigod and researchers found that 7.5 percent of all women who were surveyed reported depression symptoms that put them above the cutoff for postpartum depression — with more than nine percent of women living in cities of 500,000 or more people suffering from postpartum depression and six percent of women living in rural areas (towns with less than 1,000 people), suffering from postpartum depression.  Of women living in suburban areas, researchers found that between 5 and 7 percent reported being depressed after giving birth.

Noting the big difference at each population level, Vigod and her colleagues found that urban women were more likely to report having adequate social support during pregnancy and after giving birth. These women were also less likely to say they were in excellent or very good health.

While the known risk factors for postpartum depression couldn’t completely account for why the risk was lower among women living in certain suburban areas versus urban areas, Vigod and her team of researchers did survey each of these women at five to 14 months postpartum.

From the results, she said, “Perhaps social support should be assessed a little bit more explicitly than it is now. For women at risk it’s such a strong variable. Perhaps it’s worth the cost of trying to increase social support systems.”

Do you think where you’re living could influence your risk of postpartum depression?

Plus, more from The Bump:

How I Realized I Had Postpartum Depression

New Study Brings Comfort to New Moms Battling Postpartum Depression

Skin-to-Skin Contact May Help Moms Battling Postpartum Depression