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Postpartum Depression in a Cohort of Post-9/11 Women Veterans: The Role of Military Stress and Trauma

Combellick J, Gaffey A, Driscoll M, Foley T, Ronzitti S, Dziura J, Bastian LA, Zephyrin LC, Mattocks KM, Haskell S. Postpartum Depression in a Cohort of Post-9/11 Women Veterans: The Role of Military Stress and Trauma. Military Behavioral Health. 2020 Apr 10;

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Introduction: This study aimed to investigate the relationship between military-related traumatic experiences and postpartum depression in a cohort of post-9/11 women veterans. We hypothesized that women veterans would report high rates of postpartum depression, and that military-related traumas would constitute unique risk factors for postpartum depression. Methods: This cross-sectional study was based on survey data from post-9/11veterans who were discharged and gave birth between October, 2001 and September, 2015. Bivariate and multivariate analyses included military-related trauma variables, demographics, and factors that have been previously associated with postpartum depression in other populations. Results: Based on multivariate analyses of 151 respondents, 41% of women reported a definite or possible history of postpartum depression. Military exposures, namely multiple deployments (OR ¼ 2.41, CI ¼ 1.06-5.50), and combat exposure (OR¼ 1.05, CI ¼ 1.01-1.10), were predictive of postpartum depression following the most recent, post-deployment pregnancy. Discussion: These findings suggest that military-related factors may increase the risk for postpartum depression among women veterans. Clinicians should be vigilant in screening for military service and exposures to provide early referral and additional support as needed.

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