Psychological Distress in Healthy Low-Risk First-Time Mothers during the Postpartum Period: An Exploratory Study
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Psychological distress, defined as depression, anxiety, and insomnia in this study, can occur following the birth of a baby as new mothers, in addition to marked physiological changes, are faced with adapting to new roles and responsibilities. We investigated the cooccurrence of stress, depression, anxiety, and insomnia in mothers during the postpartum period; tested the feasibility of study methods and procedures for use in this population; and identified new mothers interest in using cranial electrotherapy stimulation (CES) as an intervention for reducing psychological distress. We recruited healthy, low-risk, English speaking first-time mothers, ages 18-32 years, with healthy babies (N = 33), within 12 months of an uncomplicated birth. Participants completed the PSS, HAM-D14, HAM-A17, and PSQI19. No problems were encountered with study procedures. Mothers reported a high interest (4.9) in the potential use of CES to treat or prevent the occurrence of psychological distress. All participants (N = 33) reported moderate levels of depression and anxiety, while 75.8% (n = 25) reported insomnia. PSS scores were within the norms for healthy women. Further research is recommended to investigate if our findings can be replicated or if different patterns of associations emerge. Implications for clinical practice are addressed.