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

Babies can learn that hard work pays off

September 21, 2017
If at first you don't succeed, try, try again. A new study from MIT reveals that babies as young as 15 months can learn to follow this advice. The researchers found that babies who watched an adult struggle at two different ...

Study links brain inflammation to suicidal thinking in depression

September 21, 2017
Patients with major depressive disorder (MDD) have increased brain levels of a marker of microglial activation, a sign of inflammation, according to a new study in Biological Psychiatry by researchers at the University of ...

Oxytocin turns up the volume of your social environment

September 20, 2017
Before you shop for the "cuddle" hormone oxytocin to relieve stress and enhance your social life, read this: a new study from the University of California, Davis, suggests that sometimes, blocking the action of oxytocin in ...

Researchers develop new tool to assess individual's level of wisdom

September 20, 2017
Researchers at University of San Diego School of Medicine have developed a new tool called the San Diego Wisdom Scale (SD-WISE) to assess an individual's level of wisdom, based upon a conceptualization of wisdom as a trait ...

Alcohol use affects levels of cholesterol regulator through epigenetics

September 20, 2017
In an analysis of the epigenomes of people and mice, researchers at Johns Hopkins Medicine and the National Institutes of Health report that drinking alcohol may induce changes to a cholesterol-regulating gene.

Self-control may not diminish throughout the day

September 20, 2017
After a long day of work and carefully watching what you eat, you might expect your self-control to slip a little by kicking back and cracking open a bag of potato chips.

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.