A history of personal violence and postpartum depression: is there a link?
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- Cohen, M., Schei, B., Ansara, D. et al. Arch Womens Ment Health (2002) 4: 83. doi:10.1007/s007370200004
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Background: A link between violence and depression has been shown, but not a link between violence and postpartum depression. This study sought to determine if there is an association between a history of abuse (physical, sexual, emotional as a child or adult) and postpartum depression (PPD).
Method: 200 postpartum women were recruited from 6 hospitals. At 8–10 weeks postpartum, a telephone interviewer asked women about physical, emotional or sexual abuse as an adult or child and sociodemographic, obstetrical and personal medical history. PPD was assessed using the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS, score of ≥12). Abuse was determined by the Conflict Tactics Scale or the Abuse Assessment Screen. Chi-square and logistic regression were used to determine the relationship between violence and PPD.
Results: 11% of women had EPDS scores of ≥12. Rates of childhood (6.5%), or adult (6.5%) physical abuse; and childhood (13%) or adult (14%) sexual abuse were reported by respondents. Emotional abuse in the current relationship (29.6%) exceeded that of childhood abuse (3.5%). Overall 43.2% of respondents had at least one form of abuse. Having a history of depression (OR = 3.3 (95% CI, 1.3–8.7)), panic attack during pregnancy (OR = 5.4 (1.6–19.0)), maternal complications (OR = 5.0 (1.7–15.1)), low social support (OR = 3.3 (1.3–8.7)) and emotional abuse (OR = 2.8 (1.1–7.4) were associated with PPD.
Conclusion: Emotional abuse but not physical or sexual abuse was found to be associated with PPD. A possible explanation for this relationship may be that being in an abusive situation puts one at risk for depression and in turn, postpartum depression.