Major Depression in Postpartum Women during the COVID-19 Pandemic: Can Social Support Buffer Psychosocial Risks and Substance Use?




Howard, Krista J.
Leong, Caleb
Chambless, Sidney
Grigsby, Timothy J.
Cordaro, Millie
Perrotte, Jessica K.
Howard, Jeffrey T.

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Rates of mood disorders and substance use increased during the COVID-19 pandemic for postpartum women. The present study's aims were to: (1) examine the prevalence of major depressive disorder (MDD) in postpartum women during the COVID-19 pandemic, and (2) evaluate whether social support can buffer the associations between MDD, psychosocial factors (perceived stress, generalized anxiety, and intimate partner violence) and substance use (alcohol and drug use). A nationwide survey included 593 postpartum mothers (within 12 months from birth). Participants were assessed for a provisional diagnosis of MDD, and provided responses on validated instruments measuring stress, intimate partner violence, suicidal ideation, generalized anxiety, social support, and substance use. A hierarchical logistic regression model assessed the association of psychosocial factors and substance use with MDD. The final model shows that social support attenuates the association of MDD with perceived stress, alcohol use, and drug use, but does not buffer the relationship of MDD with anxiety or intimate partner violence. Social support was shown to significantly attenuate the effects of stress, alcohol use, and drug use on MDD, suggesting that the presence of a strong, supportive social network should be an area of increased focus for public health and healthcare professionals when caring for postpartum women.



postpartum, pregnancy, depression, substance use, social support


International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 19 (23): 15748 (2022)


Public Health