BACKGROUND This paper reports further data from the Stoke study of postnatal depression and examines whether psychosocial characteristics and symptom profiles differ between postnatal and control depression.
METHOD Two hundred and thirty-two postnatal and non-postnatal control women were screened with the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale; all high scorers and a sample of low scores were interviewed with the Standardised Psychiatric Interview and modified Social Maladjustment Schedule. Depression was diagnosed using the Research Diagnostic Criteria.
RESULTS Postnatal but not control depression was associated with a poor relationship with the woman's own mother and greater occupational instability. Depression in control women was associated with low income, having three or more children, performing manual work and occupational dissatisfaction, but postnatal depression was not. There were no differences in the symptom profiles of the postnatal and control women nor between early and late onset postnatal depression.
CONCLUSION Depression is a common and socially disabling disorder affecting mothers of young children. Postnatal depression is more contingent on acute biopsychosocial stresses caused by the arrival of a new family member. Depression in women with older children is more closely related to longer term social adversity.