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Keywords:

  • postpartum depression;
  • military wives;
  • resilience;
  • risk and protective factors

ABSTRACT

Objective

To estimate the prevalence of postpartum depressive symptoms in a sample of military wives, and to provide a comparative descriptive analysis of demographic, risk and protective factors.

Design

A comparative descriptive design.

Setting

A large military base in southeastern United States.

Participants

Military wives (N = 71) who had given birth within the preceding 3 months.

Methods

Participants were recruited from a military immunization clinic during the infant's 8-week health maintenance visit. Assessments were conducted to screen mothers for symptoms of postpartum depression (PPD) and to measure risk and protective factors of PPD.

Results

More than one half of the participants (50.7%, n = 36) scored above the cutoff point for elevated depressive symptoms suggestive of PPD. Examination of the risk and protective factors showed that military wives with depressive symptoms had greater family changes and strains, lower self-reliance, and lower social support than those without depressive symptoms.

Conclusion

Examining postpartum depressive symptoms in military wives from a resilience perspective offers unique insights into risk and protective factors that may influence this population. Through better understanding, nurses can identify those most at risk for PPD and focus interventions on risk reduction while capitalizing on the new mothers’ strengths and resources.