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Arch Womens Ment Health. 2011 Aug;14(4):335-43. doi: 10.1007/s00737-011-0227-1. Epub 2011 Jul 3.

Depression and anxiety among postpartum and adoptive mothers.

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  • 1University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA, USA.


Similar to biological mothers during the postpartum period, women who adopt children experience increased stress and life changes that may put them at risk for developing depression and anxiety. The purpose of the current study was to compare levels of depression and anxiety symptoms between postpartum and adoptive women and, among adoptive women, to examine associations between specific stressors and depressive symptoms. Data from adoptive mothers (nā€‰=ā€‰147), recruited from Holt International, were compared to existing data from postpartum women (nā€‰=ā€‰147). Differences in the level of depression and anxiety symptoms as measured by the Inventory of Depression and Anxiety Symptoms among postpartum and adoptive women were examined. Associations between specific stressors and depressive symptoms were examined among adoptive mothers. Postpartum and adoptive women had comparable levels of depressive symptoms, but adoptive women reported greater well-being and less anxiety than postpartum women. Stressors (e.g., sleep deprivation, history of infertility, past psychological disorder, and less marital satisfaction) were all significantly associated with depressive symptoms among adoptive women. The level of depressive symptoms was not significantly different between the two groups. In contrast, adoptive women experienced significantly fewer symptoms of anxiety and experienced greater well-being. Additionally, adoptive mothers experienced more depressive symptoms during the year following adoption when the stressors were present. Thus, women with these characteristics should be routinely screened for depression and anxiety.

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