Objective: To investigate whether women with postpartum depression differ in personality traits from healthy postpartum women, healthy controls from the normal Swedish population and non-postpartum women with major depression.
Methods: Forty-five women with postpartum depression were compared with 62 healthy postpartum women, 62 age-matched, healthy, non-postpartum women from a normal sample and 74 non-postpartum women with major depression from a clinical sample. The edinburgh postnatal depression scale was used in order to screen for postpartum depression. A clinical diagnostic interview was done including a rating with the Montgomery-Asberg depression rating scale. Personality i.e. temperament and character was measured by the temperament and character inventory.
Results: Harm avoidance (HA) was higher (p < 0.001) and self-directedness (SD) scored lower (p < 0.001) in women with postpartum depression compared to healthy postpartum women. These differences were the most important differences between these two groups. Women with postpartum depression scored lower (p = 0.001) in cooperativeness (CO) and higher (p = 0.019) in self-transcendence (ST) compared to healthy postpartum women. Women with postpartum depression scored overall similar to women with major depression.
Conclusion: High HA and low SD can be seen as vulnerability factors for developing a depression and especially in a stressful situation as childbirth.
Personality dysfunction, marital problems and postnatal depression
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