Stability and Change in Levels of Depression and Personality: A Follow-up Study of Postpartum Depressed Mothers That Were Hospitalized in a Mother-Infant Unit


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Abstract

This prospective longitudinal study investigated the role of the personality dimensions of dependency and self-criticism in the course of depressive symptoms in a sample of inpatient severely postpartum depressed mothers (n = 55). Depressive symptoms and personality were measured during hospitalization and on average 3 1/2 years later. In line with previous research, a considerable subgroup of mothers (39%) reported moderate to severe symptoms of depression at time 2. In addition, although these mothers did not exhibit more depressive episodes during follow-up period compared with mothers with a less chronic course of depression, their depressive episodes were considerably longer, and they had higher levels of severity of depression as well as of dependency and self-criticism at Time 1. Finally, self-criticism, but not dependency, assessed at Time 1, predicted both depression diagnosis and levels of depression at follow-up, supporting a vulnerability model positing that self-criticism confers vulnerability for depression over time.

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