Archives of Women's Mental Health

, Volume 4, Issue 3, pp 83–92

A history of personal violence and postpartum depression: is there a link?

  • M. M. Cohen
  • B. Schei
  • D. Ansara
  • R. Gallop
  • N. Stuckless
  • D. E. Stewart
Original contribution

DOI: 10.1007/s007370200004

Cite this article as:
Cohen, M., Schei, B., Ansara, D. et al. Arch Womens Ment Health (2002) 4: 83. doi:10.1007/s007370200004

Summary

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.

Keywords: Postpartum depression; emotional abuse; physical abuse; sexual abuse; depression during pregnancy. 

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Wien 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. M. Cohen
    • 1
  • B. Schei
    • 1
  • D. Ansara
    • 1
  • R. Gallop
    • 4
  • N. Stuckless
    • 5
  • D. E. Stewart
    • 6
  1. 1.Centre for Research in Women's Health, Toronto, CanadaCA
  2. 2.Department of Health Administration, University of Toronto and The Clinical Epidemiology & Health Care Research Program, University of Toronto, Toronto, CanadaCA
  3. 3.Department of Community Medicine and General Practice, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim, NorwayNO
  4. 4.Faculty of Nursing, University of Toronto, Toronto, CanadaCA
  5. 5.Society, Women and Health Program, Sunnybrook and Women's College Health Sciences Centre, the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, and Department of Psychiatry, University of Toronto, Toronto, CanadaCA
  6. 6.University Health Network, Women's Health Program, Toronto Canada and the Departments of Psychiatry, Obstetrics and Gynaecology, and Medicine, University of Toronto, CanadaCA