The relationship between employment status and depression symptomatology among women at risk for postpartum depression

Beth A. Lewis, Lauren Billing, Katie Schuver, Dwenda Gjerdingen, Melissa Avery, Bess H. Marcus

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

3 Scopus citations


Approximately 13%-19% of new mothers report depression during the postpartum period. Returning to work after childbirth is associated with depression; however, it is unclear if this finding applies to women who are at high risk for postpartum depression. The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between employment status and depression symptomatology among women at risk for postpartum depression (defined as personal or maternal history of depression). This study was a post hoc analysis from a previously conducted randomized controlled trial. Participants (n = 124; ages 18-42) were 7 months postpartum and had participated in a randomized trial examining the efficacy of an exercise intervention for the prevention of postpartum depression (study was conducted from January 2010 through November 2011). Participants completed questionnaires examining demographic characteristics and psychosocial variables at 6 weeks and 7 months postpartum. The Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale was administered at 7 months postpartum to assess depression symptomatology. Sixty-eight percent of the participants reported that they were employed at 7 months postpartum. Employment at 7 months postpartum was associated with lower depression symptomatology (as measured by the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale) after controlling for condition assignment, marital status, and having other children. Among women who worked outside of the home, there were no differences between those who worked fulltime versus part-time on depression symptomatology. Employment may be a protective factor for postpartum depression symptomatology; however, we cannot infer causation given this study’s cross-sectional design. Postpartum women at risk for depression who are contemplating employment should consider the possible protective effect of employment on depression.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3-9
Number of pages7
JournalWomen's Health
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017



  • Employment status
  • Exercise
  • Physical activity
  • Postpartum depression
  • Women’s health

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