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Ann Behav Med. 2016 Dec;50(6):862-875.

Sleep Quality Predicts Persistence of Parental Postpartum Depressive Symptoms and Transmission of Depressive Symptoms from Mothers to Fathers.

Author information

1
Department of Psychology, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA, 90089, USA. dsaxbe@usc.edu.
2
Department of Psychology, University of California Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA, 90095, USA.
3
Virginia Tech Carillion Research Institute, Blacksburg, VA, 24060, USA.
4
NorthShore University HealthSystem Research Institute, Evanston, IL, 60208, USA.
5
Pritzker School of Medicine, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL, 60637, USA.
6
Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, UNC Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC, 27599, USA.
7
Baltimore Healthy Start, Baltimore, MD, 21218, USA.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Early parenthood is a time of chronic sleep disturbance and also of heightened depression risk. Poor sleep quality has been identified both as a predictor of postpartum depressive symptoms and as a consequence.

PURPOSE:

This study sought to clarify causal pathways linking sleep and postpartum depression via longitudinal path modeling. Sleep quality at 6 months postpartum was hypothesized to exacerbate depressive symptoms from 1 month through 1 year postpartum in both mothers and fathers. Within-couple associations between sleep and depression were also tested.

METHODS:

Data were drawn from a low-income, racially and ethnically diverse sample of 711 couples recruited after the birth of a child. Depressive symptoms were assessed at 1, 6, and 12 months postpartum, and sleep was assessed at 6 months postpartum.

RESULTS:

For both partnered mothers and fathers and for single mothers, depressive symptoms at 1 month postpartum predicted sleep quality at 6 months, which in turn predicted depressive symptoms at both 6 and 12 months. Results held when infant birth weight, breastfeeding status, and parents' race/ethnicity, poverty, education, and immigration status were controlled. Mothers' and fathers' sleep quality and depressive symptoms were correlated, and maternal sleep quality predicted paternal depressive symptoms both at 6 and at 12 months.

CONCLUSIONS:

Postpartum sleep difficulties may contribute to a vicious cycle between sleep and the persistence of depression after the birth of a child. Sleep problems may also contribute to the transmission of depression within a couple. Psychoeducation and behavioral treatments to improve sleep may benefit new parents.

KEYWORDS:

Couples; Parents; Postpartum depression; Sleep; Sleep disturbance; Sleep duration

PMID:
27492636
DOI:
10.1007/s12160-016-9815-7
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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