The prevalence of postpartum depression

The relative significance of three social status indices



Little is known about the prevalence of clinically significant postpartum depression in women of varying social status. The purpose of the present study was to examine the prevalence of postpartum depression as a function of three indices of social status: income, education and occupational prestige.


A sample of 4,332 postpartum women completed a demographic interview and the Inventory to Diagnose Depression, a self-report scale developed to identify a major depressive episode in accordance with DSM diagnostic criteria. Logistic regression was used to assess the relative significance of the three social status variables as risk factors for postpartum depression controlling for the effects of correlated demographic variables.


In the logistic regression, income, occupational prestige, marital status, and number of children were significant predictors of postpartum depression controlling for the effects of other related demographic characteristics. The Wald Chi Square value for each of these significant predictors indicates that income was the strongest predictor.


The prevalence of postpartum depression was significantly higher in financially poor relative to financially affluent women. Maternal depression screening programs targeting women who are financially poor are well placed. Future research is needed to replicate the present findings in a more ethnically diverse sample that includes the full age range of teenage mothers.

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This work was supported by grants MH50524 and a supplement to MH59668 from the National Institute of Mental Health, Bethesda, MD. (Drs. O’Hara and Stuart, respectively). The authors would like to thank Laura Gorman, Ph.D. for her assistance with this research.

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Correspondence to Lisa S. Segre PhD.

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Segre, L.S., O’Hara, M.W., Arndt, S. et al. The prevalence of postpartum depression. Soc Psychiat Epidemiol 42, 316–321 (2007).

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Key words

  • postpartum depression
  • prevalence
  • social status
  • income