Maternal and Infant Performance on the Face-to-Face Still-Face Task following Maternal Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Postpartum Depression

J Affect Disord. 2021 Jan 1:278:583-591. doi: 10.1016/j.jad.2020.09.101. Epub 2020 Sep 29.


Objective: This study examined the impact of treating postpartum depression (PPD) with cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) on mother and infant behavior on the face-to-face still-face (FFSF) paradigm.

Methods: Data from 68 mothers and their infants, 35 women with PPD within 12 months of delivery, and 33 healthy control dyads matched on infant age, sex and familial socioeconomic status were examined. Women with PPD received nine weeks of group CBT and were compared with healthy control dyads with at three timepoints on changes in mother-infant performance on the FFSF.

Results: A significant group x FFSF phase x visit interaction was observed for infant withdrawn behavior at the three months post-treatment (p=0.006). Infants of mothers with PPD displayed significantly less withdrawn behavior after treatment, normalizing to levels of control infants.

Limitations: A relatively small sample consisting predominantly of Caucasian mother-infant dyads and the presence of comorbid anxiety in the PPD group.

Conclusion: Three months after group CBT for PPD, infants' withdrawn behavior appears to normalize to levels seen in the infants of healthy controls. Future studies should investigate whether treatments focused on the mother-infant dyad have distinctive effects on mothers and their infants' behaviors.

Keywords: Cognitive behavior therapy; Infants; Mothers; Postpartum depression; Social interaction.

MeSH terms

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy*
  • Depression, Postpartum* / therapy
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant Behavior
  • Mother-Child Relations
  • Mothers