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Mastery, self-esteem, and optimism mediate the link between religiousness and spirituality and postpartum depression.

Abstract

Religious and spiritual beliefs and behaviors are powerful influences in the everyday lives of people worldwide and are especially salient for women and families around the birth of a child. A growing body of research indicates that aspects of religiousness and spirituality are associated with mental health including lower risk of postpartum depression, a disorder that affects as many as 1 in 5 women after birth. The mechanisms, however, are not well understood. In this study, psychosocial resources (mastery, self-esteem, and optimism) was tested as a mechanism linking religiousness and spirituality with depressive symptoms in 2399 postpartum women from the Community Child Health Network. Results indicated that religiousness and spirituality each predicted lower depressive symptoms throughout the first year postpartum. Psychosocial resources mediated these associations. Our findings contribute to existing knowledge by establishing psychological resources as mechanisms explaining how religiousness and spirituality influence mental health in women postpartum.

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