Postpartum depression. A role for social network and life stress variables

J Nerv Ment Dis. 1983 Jun;171(6):336-41.


Depressed (N = 11) and nondepressed (N = 19) women who had recently given birth were compared on several life stress measures and indices of structural and qualitative characteristics of their social networks. We predicted that depressed subjects diagnosed on the basis of Research Diagnostic Criteria would have experienced more stressful life events since the beginning of pregnancy and since delivery. We also predicted that depressed subjects would have fewer confidants and receive less instrumental and emotional support from their network members. These predictions were largely confirmed, except that the two groups did not differ on number of confidants. The social support provided by spouses appeared to be especially important. Implications of these findings for life events and social network research are discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Depressive Disorder / etiology*
  • Depressive Disorder / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations
  • Life Change Events*
  • Marriage
  • Parents
  • Personality Inventory
  • Pregnancy
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Puerperal Disorders / etiology*
  • Puerperal Disorders / psychology
  • Social Adjustment
  • Social Environment*
  • Social Support*