Aims: The ability to mother her infant is reduced in a woman with postpartum depression (PPD). Although antidepressant treatment effectively improves depressive symptoms, various domains of functioning, for example, work and relationships, do not universally improve with treatment. In this pilot study, we investigated whether maternal role functioning improved with antidepressant treatment in women with PPD. Methods: The pilot study was an exploratory analysis of a larger study. A subset of women (n = 27) from a randomized clinical trial (double-blind, 8-week trial of nortriptyline compared with sertraline) completed three outcome measures of maternal role functioning: gratification in the maternal role, the Infant Care Survey (ICS), and videotapes of maternal-infant interaction. The tapes were analyzed using the Child and Caregiver Mutual Regulation Coding Scale and Noldus Behavioral Coding Software. Results: The two antidepressants were equally efficacious in decreasing depressive symptoms and improving overall functioning and gratification in the maternal role. Differences between times 1 and 2 in the mother-infant interactions were related to time (increasing age of the infant) and not assignment of antidepressant or remission of depression. Conclusions: Effective treatment with two antidepressants improves gratification in the maternal role but not self-efficacy or maternal-infant interaction in women with PPD. Results of the study can help women and their healthcare providers to weigh the benefits of short-term antidepressant treatment in the postpartum period. Future studies should consider outcomes related to a longer duration of treatment.
ASJC Scopus subject areas