Patterns of women's mood after delivery: A growth curve analysis

Melissa M. Buttner, Rebecca L. Brock, Michael W. O'Hara

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Background: The course and predictors of women's mood following childbirth have informed clinically significant phenomena, such as postpartum depression (PPD), with some contradictory findings due to methodological limitations. It is important to further investigate mood during this unique period of time to inform assessment and improve interventions. Methods: Recently delivered mothers (n=216) recruited from the maternity unit at a University hospital completed sociodemographic questions and the Daily Experiences Questionnaire (DEQ), a measure of Negative Affect (NA) and Positive Affect (PA), for 10 consecutive days. The Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV was administered to assess postpartum depression diagnosis. Results: Growth curve modeling (GCM) techniques revealed average trends in mood following delivery. NA changed in a curvilinear fashion with a peak at day 5. PA declined rapidly during the days immediately following delivery and then stabilized. Women diagnosed with PPD experienced higher overall levels of NA and lower levels of PA from delivery to 10 days postpartum. Patterns of mood varied as a function of neuroticism and several well-established sociodemographic variables. Limitations: Small sample size and relatively few ethnic minority participants may affect generalizability of the findings. Conclusions: NA changed in a pattern consistent with the "peaking phenomenon". Well-established risk factors of the blues had significant associations with mood from delivery to day 10. Increased understanding into the nature of NA and PA in the early postpartum, and its role in identifying women susceptible to experiencing PPD, can inform screening and therapeutic interventions for PPD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)201-208
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Affective Disorders
StatePublished - Mar 15 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Growth curve modeling
  • Negative Affect
  • Positive Affect
  • Postpartum blues
  • Risk factors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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