Examining Postpartum Depression from a Stress-Process Perspective

Keshia Reid, Florida State University
Miles G. Taylor, Florida State University

Previous literature suggests stress exposure plays a substantial role in the risk for postpartum depression (PPD) but stress process theory is generally absent from this literature. Specifically, little is known about the impact of distal and/or cumulative stressors. Using the Fragile Families and Child Well-being Study, we examine how variations in stress exposure impact risk for postpartum depression and which types of stress are most salient for this outcome. We find that life stress is positively associated with postpartum depression and that stressful life events occuring earlier in life impact PPD net of more proximate stressors occuring in the postpartum period. Further, different types of stress across multiple life domains affect PPD independently of one another. Overall, findings suggest the importance of rooting future PPD research in the stress process framework and the need for healthcare providers to incorporate more comprehensive stress measures into PPD screening.

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Presented in Poster Session 3