Research finds staying connected a key to beating baby blues

March 8, 2017
Research finds staying connected a key to beating baby blues
Credit: University of Queensland

Women who maintain connections with their social groups after having a baby are at lower risk of developing postnatal depression, according to University of Queensland research.

UQ School of Psychology researcher Magen Seymour-Smith said who positively embraced the new role of mother as part of their identity were less likely to experience depressive symptoms.

"Social identities have been found to foster resilience and a sense of purpose, and they also form a big part of our self-concept which is especially important when people are going through a life transition, such as becoming a mother," Ms Seymour-Smith said.

"We gathered data from 387 women who had given birth in the previous 12 months and found that a decrease in group interactions after having a baby was associated with an increase in .

"Maintaining pre-existing group memberships predicted better mental health.

"Women who strongly identified as a mother – who felt that being a mother was an important and positive part of their identity – were less likely to experience ."

The research, published in Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology, examined whether women's change during pregnancy and childbirth, and the impact this might have on their mental health after giving birth.

"On average, women experience a decline in their social group connections after having a baby," Ms Seymour-Smith said.

"This is not surprising, given the responsibilities of caring for a newborn and the fact that many women cease work, at least temporarily.

"The postpartum period presents the highest risk for women's throughout their life."

Postnatal depression is estimated to affect 10 to 20 per cent of mothers.

Symptoms can include severely depressed mood, anxiety, fatigue, compulsive thoughts, loss of control, feelings of inadequacy, irrational fears, and an inability to cope.

Ms Seymour-Smith will now run a social group program to help new mothers stay connected with the groups that matter to them.

Women who are pregnant or have recently had a baby can register their interest here.

Mothers struggling with feelings of depression are urged to contact their doctor or call the National Perinatal Depression Helpline on 1300 726 306.

Explore further: Social mums beat the blues

More information: Magen Seymour-Smith et al. Loss of group memberships predicts depression in postpartum mothers, Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology (2016). DOI: 10.1007/s00127-016-1315-3

Related Stories

Social mums beat the blues

September 29, 2015
New mums are at lower risk of postnatal depression if they stay connected with their important social networks.

Postpartum depression and anxiety distinct from other mood disorders, brain studies suggest

January 24, 2017
On the surface, postpartum depression (PPD) looks much like other forms of depression. New mothers struggling with it often withdraw from family and friends, lose their appetites, and of course, feel sad and irritable much ...

Postpartum depression least severe form of depression in mothers

June 15, 2016
Postpartum depression—a household term since actress Brooke Shields went public in 2005 about her struggle with it—is indeed serious. But depression that begins before or during pregnancy is often more severe because ...

New study links risk factors to variations in postpartum depression

August 3, 2016
A new study shows that depression following childbirth can begin at different times and follow multiple distinct trajectories, emphasizing the need for clinicians to monitor for signs of postpartum depression and be aware ...

Easing labor pain may help reduce postpartum depression in some women, early research suggests

October 26, 2016
Epidural anesthesia may do more than relieve pain during labor; in some women it may decrease the likelihood of postpartum depression, suggests a preliminary study presented at the ANESTHESIOLOGY 2016 annual meeting.

Improving health outcomes for mother and baby

May 16, 2016
After the birth of their baby most women see their health care professionals, with the focus often on the baby's health. Yet 10 to 15 per cent of new mothers in New Zealand will suffer from postnatal depression.

Recommended for you

Toddlers begin learning rules of reading, writing at very early age, study finds

July 25, 2017
Even the proudest of parents may struggle to find some semblance of meaning behind the seemingly random mish-mash of letters that often emerge from a toddler's first scribbled and scrawled attempts at putting words on paper.

Exposure to violence hinders short-term memory, cognitive control

July 24, 2017
Being exposed to and actively remembering violent episodes—even those that happened up to a decade before—hinders short-term memory and cognitive control, according to a study published in the Proceedings of the National ...

Using money to buy time linked to increased happiness

July 24, 2017
New research is challenging the age-old adage that money can't buy happiness.

Researchers pave new path toward preventing obesity

July 24, 2017
People who experience unpredictable childhoods due to issues such as divorce, crime or frequent moves face a higher risk of becoming obese as adults, according to a new study by a Florida State University researcher.

Higher cognitive abilities linked to greater risk of stereotyping

July 24, 2017
People with higher cognitive abilities are more likely to learn and apply social stereotypes, finds a new study. The results, stemming from a series of experiments, show that those with higher cognitive abilities also more ...

Psychologists say our 'attachment style' applies to social networks like Facebook

July 24, 2017
A new investigation appearing this week in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin suggests a strong association between a person's attachment style—how avoidant or anxious people are in their close relationships—and ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.