Background: The postpartum is a time when women commonly report increased fatigue that may contribute to depression. Studies have not examined fatigue alone as a predictor of postpartum depression.
Objective: To examine whether and when fatigue in the early postpartum is predictive of postpartum depression.
Design: Correlational, longitudinal study.
Setting: Two hospitals and participants' homes in central Pennsylvania.
Participants: Convenience sample of 38 healthy women recruited from hospital maternity units within 24 hours after an uncomplicated birth.
Main outcome measures: Fatigue was measured using the Modified Fatigue Symptom Checklist (MFSC) on Days 0, 7, 14, and 28 after childbirth. Depression was assessed using the Center for Epidemiological Studies-Depressive Symptomatology Scale (CES-D) on Day 28.
Results: After adjustments for multiple comparisons, a significant correlation was obtained between fatigue as measured by the MFSC and postpartum depression on Day 7 (r = .46; p < .05), Day 14 (r = .57), and Day 28 (r = .70). Fatigue on Day 0 was correlated with fatigue on Day 7 (r = .45), Day 14 (r= .58), and Day 28 (r = .34).
Conclusions: Fatigue as early as 7 days postpartum is predictive of depression at Day 28 postpartum.