Cognitive Therapy and Research

, Volume 37, Issue 1, pp 89–96

Ruminative Thinking as a Predictor of Perceived Postpartum Mother–Infant Bonding

  • Dana Müller
  • Tobias Teismann
  • Beate Havemann
  • Johannes Michalak
  • Sabine Seehagen
Original Article


Ruminative thinking has been identified as a vulnerability factor for the onset and maintenance of depression. Furthermore, depressed persons who are high in rumination report more difficulties in intimate relationships. It is still unclear, however, whether rumination is predictive of postpartum depressive symptoms as well as impairments in the mother–infant relationship. Possible associations were investigated in a short-term longitudinal study. Controlling for age, pre- and postnatal depressive symptoms, ruminative thinking during pregnancy was a significant predictor of mother-reported impairments in the mother–infant relationship. Yet, rumination was not predictive of postpartum depressive symptoms. The implications of these findings are discussed.


Depression Rumination Mother–infant bonding 


  1. Alder, J., Fink, N., Bitzer, J., Hösli, I., & Holzgreve, W. (2007). Depression and anxiety during pregnancy: A risk factor for obstetric, fetal and neonatal outcome? A critical review of the literature. The Journal of Maternal–Fetal and Neonatal Medicine, 20, 189–209.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bagby, R. M., Rector, N. A., Bacchiochi, J. R., & McBride, C. (2004). The stability of the response styles questionnaire rumination scale in a sample of patients with major depression. Cognitive Therapy and Research, 28, 527–538.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Beck, C. T. (1999). Maternal depression and child behavior problems: A meta-analysis. Journal of Advances in Nursing, 29, 623–629.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Beck, A. T., Steer, R. A., & Brown, G. K. (1996). Beck depression inventory (2nd ed.). San Antonio: The Psychological Cooperation.Google Scholar
  5. Blehar, M. C., Lieberman, A. F., & Ainsworth, M. D. S. (1977). Early face-to-face interaction and its relation to later infant–mother attachment. Child Development, 48, 182–194.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Brockington, I. F., Oates, J., George, S., Turner, D., Vostanis, P., Sullivan, M., et al. (2001). A screening questionnaire for mother–infant bonding disorders. Archives of Womens Menal Health, 3, 133–140.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Ciesla, J. A., & Roberts, J. E. (2002). Self-directed thought and response to treatment for depression: A preliminary investigation. Journal of Cognitive Psychotherapy, 16, 435–453.Google Scholar
  8. Cohen, J. (1988). Statistical power analysis for the behavioural sciences. Hillsdale: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  9. Cox, S. J., Mezulis, A. H., & Hyde, J. S. (2010). The influence of child gender role and maternal feedback to child stress on the emergence of the gender difference in depressive rumination in adolescence. Development Psychology, 46, 842–852.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Cuijpers, P., Bränmark, J. G., & van Straten, A. (2008). Psychological treatment of postpartum depression: A meta-analysis. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 64, 103–118.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Domogalla, C. (2006). Einflüsse psychosozialer Risikofaktoren auf die Qualität der MutterKind-interaktion. Unpublished dissertationthesis. Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München.Google Scholar
  12. Duncan, L. G., & Bardacke, N. (2010). Mindfulness-based childbirth and parenting education: Promoting family mindfulness during the perinatal period. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 19, 190–202.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Ehring, T. (2007). Development and validation of a content-independent measure of perseverative thinking. In Paper presented at the V world congress of behavioural and cognitive therapies, Barcelona, 13–15 July, 2007.Google Scholar
  14. Ehring, T., Zetsche, U., Weidacker, K., Wahl, K., Schönefeld, S., & Ehlers, A. (2011). The perseverative thinking questionnaire (PTQ) validation of a content-independent measure of repetitive negative thinking. Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry, 42, 225–232.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Gorski, J., & Young, M. A. (2002). Sociotropy/autonomy, self-construal, response style, and gender in adolescents. Personality and Individual Differences, 32, 463–478.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Hautzinger, M., Keller, F., & Kühner, C. (2006). BDI-II. Beck Depressions Inventar Revision. Frankfurt am Main: Harcourt Test Services.Google Scholar
  17. Kühner, C., Huffziger, S., & Nolen-Hoeksema, S. (2007). RSQ-D: Response styles questionnaire—Deutsche Version. Göttingen: Hogrefe.Google Scholar
  18. Lam, D., Schuck, N., Smith, N., Farmer, A., & Checkley, S. (2003). Response style, interpersonal difficulties and social functioning in major depressive disorder. Journal of Affective Disorders, 75, 279–283.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Loyd, B. H., & Abidin, R. R. (1985). Revision of the parenting stress index. Journal of Pediatric Psychology, 10, 169–177.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Lyubomirsky, S., & Tkach, C. (2004). The consequences of dysphoric rumination. In C. Papageorgiou & A. Wells (Eds.), Depressive rumination: Nature, theory and treatment (pp. 21–41). New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  21. Lyubomirsky, S., Tucker, K. L., Caldwell, N. D., & Berg, K. (1999). Why ruminators are poor problem solvers: Clues from the phenomenology of dysphoric rumination. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 77, 1041–1060.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Mayberry, L. J., Horowitz, J. A., & Declerq, E. (2006). Depression symptom prevalence and demographic risk factors among US women during the first 2 years postpartum. Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic, and Neonatal Nursing, 36, 542–549.Google Scholar
  23. Moehler, E., Brunner, R., Wiebel, A., Reck, C., & Resch, E. (2006). Maternal depressive symptoms in the postnatal period are associated with long-term impairment of mother–child bonding. Archives of Womens Menal Health, 9, 273–278.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Noelen-Hoeksema, S. (1991). Responses to depression and their effects on the duration of depressive episodes. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 100, 569–582.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Noelen-Hoeksema, S., Wisco, B. E., & Lyubomirsky, S. (2008). Rethinking rumination. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 5, 400–424.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. O‘Hara, M. W. (2009). Postpartum depression: What we know? Journal of Clinical Psychology, 65, 1258–1269.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. O‘Mahen, H. A., Flynn, H. A., & Nolen-Hoeksema, S. (2010). Rumination and interpersonal functioning in perinatal depression. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 6, 646–667.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. O’Mahen, H., Fedock, G., Henshaw, E., Himle, J. A., Forman, J., & Flynn, H. A. (2011). Modifying CBT for perinatal depression: What do women want? A qualitative study. Cognitive and Behavioral Practice. doi:10.1016/j.cbpra.2011.05.005.Google Scholar
  29. Pearson, K. A., Watkins, E. R., Kuyken, W., & Mullan, E. G. (2010a). The psychosocial context of depressive rumination: Ruminative brooding predicts diminished relationship satisfaction in individuals with a history of past major depression. British Journal of Clinical Psychology, 49, 275–280.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Pearson, K. A., Watkins, E. R., Mullan, E. G., & Moberly, N. J. (2010b). Psychosocial correlates of depressive rumination. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 48, 784–791.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Reck, C., Klier, C. M., Pabst, K., Stehle, E., Steffenelli, U., Struben, K., et al. (2006). The German version of the postpartum bonding instrument: Psychometric properties and association with postpartum depression. Archives of Womens Mental Health, 9, 265–271.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Spasojevic, J., & Alloy, B. (2001). Rumination as a common mechanism relating depressive risk factors to depression. Emotion, 1, 25–37.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Teismann, T., Hanning, S., von Brachel, R., & Willutzki, U. (2012). Kognitive Verhaltenstherapie depressiven Grübelns [Cognitive-behavioural therapy of depressive rumination]. Berlin: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Tse, W. S., & Bond, A. J. (2004). The impact of depression o social skills: A review. Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, 192, 260–268.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Watkins, E. (2008). Constructive and unconstructive repetitive thought. Psychological Bulletin, 134, 163–206.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Weinstock, L. M., & Whismann, M. (2007). Rumination and excessive reassurance-seeking in depression: A cognitive–interpersonal integration. Cognitive Therapy and Research, 30, 333–342.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Whiffen, V. E., & Gotlib, I. H. (1989). Infants of postpartum depressed mothers: Temperament and cognitive status. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 98, 274–279.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Yook, K., Kim, K., Suh, S. Y., & Lee, K. S. (2010). Intolerance of uncertainty, worry, and rumination in major depressive disorder and generalized anxiety disorder. Journal of Anxiety Disorders, 24, 623–628.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Dana Müller
    • 1
  • Tobias Teismann
    • 1
  • Beate Havemann
    • 1
  • Johannes Michalak
    • 2
  • Sabine Seehagen
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy, Faculty of PsychologyRuhr-Universität BochumBochumGermany
  2. 2.Institute of PsychologyUniversität HildesheimHildesheimGermany
  3. 3.Department of Clinical Child and Adolescent PsychologyRuhr-Universität BochumBochumGermany

Personalised recommendations