Social Support, Religious Commitment, and Depression Among Pregnant and Postpartum Women

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Objective: Social support and religious commitment were examined in relation to antenatal and postpartum depressive symptoms in a prospective, longitudinal study to determine whether religious commitment explained variance in depression scores beyond that accounted for by social support. Background: Social support and religiosity are positively related to good mental/physical health, and depression is related to poor health outcomes in pregnancy and postpartum. It was hypothesised that social support and religious commitment would be inversely related to depressive symptoms, and that religious commitment would predict variance in depression scores over and above social support. Methods: In 106 mostly low SES Appalachian pregnant women, social support and religious commitment were measured during the first trimester. First and third trimester (Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale – 10 item version), and 6 weeks and 6 months postpartum (Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale) depression symptoms were measured. Hierarchical regression examined relative contributions of social support (Prenatal Psychosocial Profile) and religious commitment (Religious Surrender and Attendance Scale – 3 Item Version) to depressive symptoms at each time point while controlling for education and marital status. Results: Regression results indicated that social support and religious commitment explained 10–18% and 0–3% of the variability in depression scores, respectively. Conclusion: Both social support (all time points) and religious commitment (only at 6 months postpartum) were inversely related to depression. Pregnant women low in social support and postpartum women low in social support or religious commitment may be at increased risk for depression.