Objective: To determine the impact of partner support in the treatment of mothers suffering from postpartum depression (PPD).
Method: Patients underwent a comprehensive psychiatric assessment and were enrolled in the study only if they met the DSM-IV criteria for major depressive disorder with postpartum onset. Patients with PPD (n = 29) were assigned randomly to 2 treatment groups: group 1 (control group) consisted of patients only (n = 13), while group 2 (support group) consisted of patients (n = 16) and their partners. The patients in both groups were seen for 7 psychoeducational visits each. In group 2, partners participated in 4 of the 7 visits. Patients in both groups were administered a set of questionnaires that included the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS), the Kellner Symptom Questionnaire, the Dyadic Adjustment Scale (DAS), and the Parental Bonding Instrument (PBI). In addition, during visits 1 and 7, all patients underwent assessment using the Mini International Neuropsychiatric Instrument (MINI), section A (major depressive episode). The partners in both groups completed the DAS and the General Health Questionnaire (GHQ).
Results: Relative to the control-group patients, the support-group patients displayed a significant decrease in depressive symptoms and other psychiatric conditions. Relative to the support group, the general health of the partners in the control group deteriorated.
Conclusion: Partner support has a measurable effect on women experiencing PPD.