Objective: Women are vulnerable to mood changes during pregnancy and the postpartum period. We set out to empirically test the hypothesis that biological and psychosocial variables interact to result in this vulnerability.
Method: Using structural equation modeling techniques, we developed an integrative model of perinatal mood changes from clinical, psychosocial, hormone and mood data collected from 150 women in late pregnancy and at 6-weeks postpartum.
Results: In the prenatal model, biological variables had no direct effect on depressive symptoms. However, they did act indirectly through their significant effects on psychosocial stressors and symptoms of anxiety. The same model did not fit the postpartum data, suggesting that different causal variables may be implicated in postpartum mood.
Conclusion: This model demonstrates the importance of considering both biological and psychosocial variables in complex health conditions such as perinatal mood disorders.