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ABSTRACT: The purpose of this longitudinal study was to examine changes in young mothers' depressive symptoms from pregnancy through the first two postpartum years and how supportive relationships with key individuals were related to mothers' depressive symptoms over time. Data were collected from young, low-income African American mothers (N = 248) during pregnancy and at 4, 12, and 24 months postpartum. Hierarchical Linear Modeling (HLM) analyses revealed that depressive symptoms were highest during pregnancy and declined through 24 months postpartum. Supportive relationships with the father of the baby and the mother's parent figure were related to lower levels of depressive symptoms. Although the association between father support and the mother's depressive symptoms remained consistent over time, support from the parent figure became increasingly more important during the young mother's transition to parenting. Further analyses also revealed that the association between support and depressive symptoms depended on other aspects of these relationships. Greater support from the baby's father was only related to fewer depressive symptoms for mothers who were partnered with the father of the baby. Greater support from the parent figure was only related to fewer depressive symptoms for mothers who were coresiding with the parent. Finally, having a repeat pregnancy during the early postpartum years was related to higher levels of depressive symptoms during the subsequent pregnancy. These findings suggest that screening and interventions for depression in young mothers should begin during pregnancy and include a focus on her proximal social relationships.
Journal of Family Psychology 08/2012; 26(4):585-94. · 1.89 Impact Factor