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Incidence and risk factors for postpartum mood and anxiety disorders among women veterans.

Pratt AA, Sadler AG, Thomas EBK, Syrop CH, Ryan GL, Mengeling MA. Incidence and risk factors for postpartum mood and anxiety disorders among women veterans. General hospital psychiatry. 2023 Jun 25; 84:112-124.

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BACKGROUND: Our aim was to determine rates of postpartum mood and anxiety disorders (PMADs) among U.S. women Veterans and the overlap among PMADs. We further sought to identify PMAD risk factors, including those unique to military service. METHODS: A national sample of women Veterans completed a computer-assisted telephone interview (N  =  1414). Eligible participants were aged 20-45 and had separated from service within the last 10 years. Self-report measures included demographics, general health, reproductive health, military exposures, sexual assault, childhood trauma, and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The PMADs of interest were postpartum depression (PPD), postpartum anxiety (PPA) and postpartum PTSD (PPPTSD). This analysis included 1039 women Veterans who had ever been pregnant and who answered questions about PPMDs related to their most recent pregnancy. RESULTS: A third (340/1039, 32.7%) of participants were diagnosed with at least one PMAD and one-fifth (215/1039, 20.7%) with two or more. Risk factors common for developing a PMAD included: a mental health diagnosis prior to pregnancy, a self-report of ever having had a traumatic birth experience, and most recent pregnancy occurring during military service. Additional risk factors were found for PPD and PPPTSD. CONCLUSION: Women Veterans may be at an increased risk for developing PMADs due to high rates of lifetime sexual assault, mental health disorders, and military-specific factors including giving birth during military service and military combat deployment exposures.

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