Postpartum Depression Research Roundup: May 17, 2024


What is new in research on postpartum depression?

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science thodonal_AdobeStock

In this Research Roundup, we explore new studies on the prevalence, predictors, and other factors associated with postpartum depression (PPD).

Exploring the Prevalence and Predictors of PPD

This analytical cross-sectional study of 674 mothers across 6 countries aimed to explore the prevalence and cognitive, social, and behavioral predictors of PDD. The study’s investigators found that the overall PPD frequency was 13.6%, ranging from 2.3% in Syria to 26% in Ghana. Key predictors included having an unhealthy baby (aOR 11.685) and lack of support (aOR 9.784), while protective factors were being married (aOR 0.141) and being comfortable discussing mental health (aOR 0.369).

“PPD has many protective and potential factors,” the investigators concluded. “We recommend further research and screenings of PPD for all mothers to promote the well-being of the mothers and create a favorable environment for the newborn and all family members.”


Amer SA, Zaitoun NA, Abdelsalam HA, et al. Exploring predictors and prevalence of postpartum depression among mothers: multinational studyBMC Public Health. 2024;24(1):1308.

Heart Rate Variability Measures in Pregnancy as Predictors of PPD

This exploratory study investigated whether heart rate variability (HRV) in late pregnancy could predict PPD and anxiety. HRV was measured in 122 women at week 38 of pregnancy, with depressive and anxiety symptoms assessed at 6 weeks postpartum. Lower HRV was associated with these symptoms, but HRV alone was not predictive. Combined models including HRV and background variables yielded high predictive accuracy (AUC of 0.93 for depression and 0.83 for anxiety), although HRV did not significantly enhance models based solely on psychological measures.

“The current study does not provide evidence for the use of HRV indices for prediction of PPD and anxiety in women with known pregnancy depression and anxiety,” the investigators concluded. “Further studies investigating the ability of HRV to predict postpartum affective disorders are warranted among women without pregnancy symptoms of depression or anxiety.”


Eriksson A, Kimmel MC, Furmark T, et al. Investigating heart rate variability measures during pregnancy as predictors of postpartum depression and anxiety: an exploratory studyTransl Psychiatry. 2024;14(1):203.

Connections Between PPD and Positive and Negative Perfectionism

This study explored factors related to PPD and its connection with perfectionism among 162 mothers in Qom, Iran. The prevalence of PPD was found to be 29.6%, with negative perfectionism increasing the likelihood of PPD by 14%, while positive perfectionism showed no significant correlation. Higher risks of PPD were associated with being a student, having a history of PPD, and unintended pregnancies, whereas factors like multigravidity, breastfeeding, and lack of concern about body image reduced the risk.

“Since mothers’ negative perfectionism is associated with PPD,” the investigators concluded, “it is recommended to identify perfectionist individuals during pregnancy and after delivery and provide counseling service to them.”


Rahimi H, Mousavi FS, Rahmanian SA, et al. Postpartum depression and its relationship with the positive and negative perfectionismJ Educ Health Promot. 2024;13:110.

Note: This Research Roundup was prepared with the assistance of ChatGPT.

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