Mommy Meltdown: Understanding Racial Differences Between Black and White Women in Attitudes About Postpartum Depression and Treatment Modalities

Talelia S. House, Eva Alnajjar, Madhuri Mulekar, Lisa B. Spiryda


Background: Postpartum depression is a major public health problem, but limited information is available about risk factors and attitudes of minority women about postpartum depression. The objective of this study is to determine attitudes of minority women toward postpartum depression and treatment.

Methods: In this prospective study at an academic resident and faculty clinic, 39 women (19 black and 20 white) at the 6-week postpartum visit completed a survey that was developed for this study to assess personal and family attitudes about postpartum depression in addition to the routinely distributed Edinburgh postnatal depression scale. The primary outcome variable was the presence of postpartum depression amongst minority women compared to other races. The secondary outcome looked at descriptors of attitudes about depression and treatment. Data were analyzed with Chi-square test for categorical data and Student’s
t-test for continuous data.

Results: Black and white participants were comparable in age, distribution of gestational age at birth, delivery type and pregnancy complications. The diagnosis of postpartum depression was not different in either population (two black and three white women; P = 0.667). Black participants were referred less frequently to counseling as treatment (5% vs. 30%; P = 0.052) but both black and white study participants viewed counseling as helpful (84% vs. 80%; P = 0.345). Black participants had a lower frequency of family history of depression (11% vs. 40%; P = 0.052) but both study groups were comfortable discussing the topic with their families, felt that their families were not ashamed of any social stigma about depression, and would be supportive of either counseling or medications as a treatment modality.

Conclusions: Postpartum depression was common among our patients regardless of race. Most black and white women were willing to discuss depression with their families and accept treatment. Despite previous evidence to the contrary, black women stated that they were open to counseling as treatment for depression.

J Clin Gynecol Obstet. 2020;9(3):37-42


Pregnancy; Postpartum depression; Racial disparities; Social stigma of depression

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Journal of Clinical Gynecology and Obstetrics, quarterly, ISSN 1927-1271 (print), 1927-128X (online), published by Elmer Press Inc.                     
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