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Perfectionism, Multiple Roles, and Postpartum Depression: Is Perfectionism a Factor in Multiple-Role Women Experiencing Postpartum Depression?

21 July 2006


Increasingly, motherhood joins many other roles in women's lives, both within the family and beyond. As women adjust to the new and profound role of motherhood, postpartum mood and anxiety disorders impair around 10 to 20 percent of new mothers (Knopps, 1993). Identification and treatment of postpartum depression (PPD) is vital as the disorder can adversely affect both mothers and their infants. To add to the understanding of contributing factors to PPD, this study examined perfectionism as a potential predictor of postpartum depression. It also sought to understand how the number of roles a mother engages in impacts the development of PPD. Forty-one first-time, new mothers were given a measures ofPPD and perfectionism and recorded the number of roles they recognized as engaging in. Results indicated that perfectionism was predictive ofPPD. Specifically, rumination was the factor of perfectionism most predictive of postpartum depression. All of the depressed mothers scored high on the rumination scale of the perfectionism inventory. In addition, depressed mothers also scored higher on the need for approval scale than non-depressed mothers who also ruminate: A combination of rumination and need for approval set the depressed mothers apart from the non-depressed mothers. Results also showed no relationship between the quantity of roles a mother endorses and the development ofPPD. Simply summing the number of roles did not reveal enough about the effect of those roles to understand the protective or detrimental effects they may have on a mother's mental health. Rumination may be a helpful screening factor for predicting depression in women who have not had depression before or have other protective factors against depression. Further research using a less larger and less homogeneous population would increase the generalizability of the study.


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