What social workers need to know about post-partum depression

A group of social workers conducted a study of variables suspected to influence postpartum depression. The purpose of this blog is to share findings and improve treatment design.

Giving birth is supposed to be a joyful experience but for some it is accompanied by difficult emotions and a sense of ineptitude. Experiencing postpartum depression (PPD) is more than just having the “baby blues”. PPD is a debilitating mental disorder that affects approximately 17.15% of Canadian women and 16.8% of Quebec women following childbirth (Lanes, Kuk, & Tamim, 2011). The prevalence of minor/major PPD is estimated at 8.46% and the prevalence of major PPD at 8.69% (Lanes et al., 2011). Given the significance of these numbers, the Lakeshore hospital decided to examine the prevalence of PPD in its community.

This research used a cross-sectional design to explore perceived self-efficacy and postpartum depression in two groups of women, one with low and the other with high levels of social support. Symptoms of depression were found in 59% of women indicating that this population runs a much higher risk of experiencing PPD. A higher prevalence of depressive symptoms was associated with a lower level of social support and a lower sense of self-efficacy, indicating that the presence of these variables may influence PPDS.

These findings inform practice by supporting the need to improve psychosocial functioning, the ability to mobilize support and enhance the parenting capabilities in this population. Suggested treatment includes individual or group interpersonal psychotherapy (O’Hara et al., 2000; Mulcahy et al., 2010).


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