Effect of dysfunctional attitudes and postpartum state on vulnerability to depressed mood
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BACKGROUND: Postpartum depression (PPD) is the most common complication of childbearing with a 13% prevalence. Vulnerability to depressed mood has an important role in the onset of major depressive episodes (MDE), but has not been investigated in postpartum. The aim is to assess whether day-5 postpartum blues and severity of dysfunctional attitudes predicts vulnerability to depressed mood. METHODS: About 45 healthy women were recruited: group 1 (n=12) was day-5 postpartum during the typical peak of postpartum blues. Group 2 (n=11) was within 18 months postpartum and reported a vulnerability to cry (and had elevated dysfunctional attitudes but no MDE). Group 3 (n=11) was within 18 months postpartum and no vulnerability to cry. Group 4 (n=11) was not recently postpartum. Vulnerability to depressed mood was measured by the change in the visual analog scale from the sad mood induction procedure (MIP). RESULTS: Univariate analysis of covariance demonstrated that day-5 postpartum blues and level of dysfunctional attitudes were highly predictive of change in sad mood (postpartum blues: F(1,41)=12.9, p<0.005, dysfunctional attitudes scale score: F(1,41)=11.49, p<0.005). LIMITATIONS: Although the effects were robust, sample sizes were 11-12 within each group. CONCLUSION: Two factors (day-5 postpartum and severity of dysfunctional attitudes) predicted vulnerability to sad mood. Since the severity of postpartum blues predicts PPD, MIP on day-5 postpartum represents a quantitative measure that can be applied to screen novel, early interventions for preventing PPD. Interventions to prevent PPD through increasing resilience against mood induction should target postpartum women with greater severity of dysfunctional attitudes.
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