Differential impairments in emotion face recognition in postpartum and nonpostpartum depressed women

J Affect Disord. 2011 Feb;128(3):314-8. doi: 10.1016/j.jad.2010.07.021. Epub 2010 Aug 25.


Background: Though potential differences in postpartum and nonpostpartum major depression have major implications for the etiology and treatment of both disorders, these differences have not been clearly delineated. Emotion theory presents a potentially important framework for understanding these differences.

Methods: The current study examined the performance of 65 postpartum depressed, 65 nonpostpartum depressed, and 65 healthy control women on two facial recognition tasks.

Results: Postpartum and nonpostpartum participants performed worse on the recognition of emotions of happiness and fear when compared to controls on both tasks. Participants with postpartum depression showed a greater impairment on both disgust and anger when compared to participants with nonpostpartum depression; participants with nonpostpartum depression showed greater impairment on happiness when compared to postpartum depression.

Conclusion: Postpartum and nonpostpartum depression may impair facial expression recognition differently. Results are discussed in terms of limitations and clinical implications.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Depression, Postpartum / psychology*
  • Face
  • Facial Expression
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Postpartum Period / psychology*
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Recognition, Psychology*