Postpartum depression (PPD) may be a unique syndrome, necessitating research, diagnosis, and treatment strategies distinct from those for major depressive disorder (MDD), according to a recent study. Results also indicate the possibility that worry is an enhanced feature of PPD compared to depression outside the postpartum period, and the crucial role of sadness/anhedonia in MDD diagnosis may be less applicable to PPD diagnosis. In a prospective, longitudinal study of parturient women (n=239), researchers examined the manifestation of depression symptoms. They assessed factor structure of symptom profiles, and whether factors are differentially pronounced during and after the postpartum period. They found:
- Factors were revealed representing: worry, emotional/circadian/energetic dysregulation, somatic/cognitive, appetite, distress display, and anger symptoms.
- The factor structure was validated at postpartum and after-postpartum time points.
- Interestingly, the worry factor, comprising anxiety and guilt, was significantly more pronounced during the postpartum time point, and the emotional/circadian/energetic dysregulation factor, which contained sadness and anhedonia, was significantly less pronounced during the postpartum period.
Fox M, Sandman CA, Davis EP, Glynn LM. A longitudinal study of women's depression symptom profiles during and after the postpartum phase. [Published online ahead of print February 2, 2018]. Depress Anxiety. doi:10.1002/da.22719.