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Spiritual and Religious Resources in African American Women: Protection from Depressive Symptoms Following Birth.


Many women experience depressive symptoms after birth, and rates among African Americans are as high as 40 percent. Spirituality and religiosity are valued in African American communities, but their relevance to new mothers has not been empirically tested. We examined effects of religiosity and spirituality on trajectories of depressive symptoms during the year following childbirth. Data were collected by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver NICHD Community and Child Health Network (CCHN) focused on maternal-child health disparities. The sample consisted of 702 low SES African American predominantly Christian women. Participants were interviewed in their homes throughout the year following a birth. Spirituality and religiosity each independently predicted changes in depressive symptoms with low levels predicting increases over time. Effects of religiosity were mediated by a woman's spirituality. Religiosity and spirituality functioned as significant, interrelated protective factors in this study which provides novel insight about lower income African American women following birth.

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