The purpose of this descriptive repeated-measures study was to describe depressive symptom patterns and report changes over time in levels of perceived stress and social support depending on patterns of depressive symptoms in single, low-income, African American, adolescent mothers during the initial, 6-month postpartum period. Thirty-five adolescent subjects between the ages of 16 and 22 years old were recruited at health care clinics in two Midwestern cities. Data collections by advanced practice nurses were completed at 1 week, 6 weeks, 3 months, and 6 months postpartum at mothers’ homes. Established instruments were used to measure depressive symptoms, perceived stress and social support. Results indicated 63 % of adolescent mothers’ experienced depressive symptoms sometime during this transition period and 11.4 % of these subjects had depressive symptoms at all 4 time points. Depressive symptoms were associated with perceived stress at each time point. Emotional support was inversely associated with depressive symptoms at 2 of the 4 time points. Depressive symptoms and problematic support were significantly related at 3 and 6 months. Although single, low-income, African American, adolescent mothers are considered a high risk group, some are at even greater risk. This extremely high risk group have depressive symptoms throughout the first 6 months postpartum with the highest level of perceived stress and the most variability in social support relative to groups that were never depressed or were in and out of depression. More studies are needed to understand how to best help these high risk adolescents successfully transition to motherhood.
- African American
- Social support
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Developmental and Educational Psychology
- Life-span and Life-course Studies