Gestational Diabetes May Raise Risk of Postpartum Depression

Pregnant woman looking out windowPostpartum depression may be associated with gestational diabetes in women who are pregnant for the first time, according to a study published in the journal Depression and Anxiety. Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show gestational diabetes is on the rise, with as many as 9.2% of pregnant women experiencing symptoms.

The study also found a strong link between a prior history of depression and the later development of postpartum depression.

Gestational Diabetes and Postpartum Depression

The study—the largest of its kind—followed all women who gave birth in Sweden between 1997 and 2008. This produced a sample size of more than 700,000 women.

Women who had a previous depression history were more than 20 times more likely to experience postpartum depression. Women who experienced gestational diabetes had a moderate increase in their risk of postpartum depression, independent of any previous depression history. Among women who had a prior history of depression, gestational diabetes further increased their already high risk of developing postpartum depression. In this case, the likelihood of experiencing postpartum depression increased by 70%.

Other risk factors for postpartum depression included young maternal age, instrument-assisted delivery, cesarean section, and preterm delivery. Women with a history of depression were more likely to experience postpartum depression if they experienced diabetes prior to pregnancy. Postpartum depression was most common in the first month postpartum, with rates decreasing in later months.

Preventing Gestational Diabetes

Doctors are unsure why some women develop gestational diabetes and others do not. The placenta secretes hormones that may cause insulin resistance. Insulin resistance inhibits the ability of the body to metabolize glucose, leading to high blood sugar. Babies born to mothers with gestational diabetes may be unusually large. They are also more likely to have breathing problems and low glucose at birth.

Gestational diabetes is not entirely preventable, but eating a healthy diet during pregnancy may help. Most women undergo testing for gestational diabetes during the second trimester of pregnancy. Dietary changes may help control symptoms, though some women need insulin treatment.

The study’s authors say identifying the risk factors that can lead to postpartum depression may help increase early interventions for the condition, perhaps even before a woman gives birth.


  1. DeSisto, C. L., MPH, Kim, S. Y., MPH, & Sharma, A. J., MPH, PhD. (2014, June 19). Prevalence estimates of gestational diabetes mellitus in the United States, Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System (PRAMS), 2007-2010. Retrieved from
  2. Gestational diabetes increases risk for postpartum depression. (2017, January 18). Retrieved from
  3. Silverman, M. E., Reichenberg, A., Savitz, D. A., Cnattingius, S., Lichtenstein, P., Hultman, C. M., . . . Sandin, S. (2017). The risk factors for postpartum depression: A population-based study. Depression and Anxiety. doi:10.1002/da.22597
  4. What is gestational diabetes? (n.d.). Retrieved from

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  • Dina77

    February 2nd, 2017 at 10:40 AM

    This article was right on. Having dealt with a bipolar sister who continuously battled depression, it was an everyday challenge. Honest! Depression can affect anyone, but it is especially terrible to deal with that after giving birth. She overcame her challenges.

  • vic

    February 3rd, 2017 at 8:05 AM

    My wife had GD with both of our babies and even though we were thankful we found out about it early along, it was still a rough nine months for her during each pregnancy.
    I am thankful though that he doctor was very vigilant about keeping an eye on her because I know that this could have been a disastrous health situation had he not.

  • Kim

    February 3rd, 2017 at 10:29 AM

    It would be very comforting to know that there is going to be some treatment available for helping prevent post partum prevention that doctors and researchers are working on. I think that many women would be scared to know that their risk for depression is greater because of gestational diabetes, but it would be a buffer if you knew that alright, this is what I am facing but there is some help out there to ensure that the baby and I don’t go through this. I just think that the more we know overall about women’s health then the greater likelihood there is that baby health will improve as well.

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