Integrating Diverse Theoretical Perspectives to Evaluate Potential Racial, Ethnic, and Socioeconomic Differences in Perinatal Depression



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University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work


Perinatal depression is a prominent unwanted outcome associated with childbearing impacting approximately 14.5% of women during pregnancy and the postpartum period (Gaynes et al., 2005). Perinatal depression adversely impacts maternal well-being, mother-infant attachment, and child development (Beck, 1995, 1998; Postmontier, 2008a, 2008b). Despite its prevalence and implications, we know little about its etiology across diverse racial and ethnic groups of women with low socioeconomic status. The absence of a clear theoretical foundation that explicates potential racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic group differences impairs our ability to understand and accurately screen for perinatal depression across diverse women. This article integrates bio-psycho-social theory, the stress and coping model, and the life-course perspective and evaluates how these viewpoints enhance and/or limit our understanding of group differences in the experience of perinatal depression. This integrated theoretical perspective is proposed as a framework for future research to evaluate and improve perinatal depression screening and ultimately treatment across an increasingly diverse population of women at risk.



Patricia A. Lee King, Perspectives on Social Work, Pregnancy, Perinatal Depression, Social work, Perspectives on Social Work, Pregnancy, Perinatal depression