Perceived Stigma of Postpartum Depression Symptoms in Low-Risk First-Time Parents: Gender Differences in a Dual-Pathway Model
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Although postpartum depression (PPD) symptoms are fairly common among new mothers and fathers, new parents still perceive a stigma associated with having the “baby blues.” Research has extensively examined the role of perceived stigma on help-seeking for clinical PPD, but little is known about the process of perceived stigma in new parents. We examined the role of perceived stigma in postpartum depressive symptoms using the dual-pathway model (Mickelson and Williams 2008). Specifically, we tested whether internalized stigma would influence PPD symptoms through parenting efficacy, whereas experienced stigma would influence PPD symptoms through indirect support-seeking. We also examined whether the internalized pathway was stronger for fathers while mothers would utilize both pathways. Using longitudinal data from a community sample of first-time parents in the United States, we found parenting efficacy was a mediator between internalized stigma and PPD symptoms for mothers and experienced stigma and PPD symptoms for fathers; indirect support-seeking was only a cross-sectional mediator for mothers between internalized stigma and PPD symptoms. Understanding how new mothers and fathers perceive the stigma attached to PPD symptoms and the process by which it impacts symptom reporting can help to improve interventions aimed at new parents.
KeywordsPerceived stigma Postpartum depression Gender Parenthood
The current study was supported by a grant to the first author from the Ohio Board of Regents.
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