Predicting the Origins of Post-Partum Depression Through the Use of Mental Representations
Both the incidence and scope of post-partum affective disorders are more pervasive than previously assumed. Several etiological factors have been implicated but none has fully explained the origins of the condition. This paper proposes that post-partum depression may be predicted from the expectant mother's representations of her own caregiver. Deficits in representational ability may prevent the caregiver from envisioning herself as a competent mother capable of forging an adaptive relationship with the infant. Previewing-a developmental process that predicts maturational change -may enhance the mother's ability to represent adaptive interaction. Previewing techniques may be used to overcome the negative representations associated with post-partum depression, enabling the mother to establish a secure attachment relationship with the infant. This discussion highlights the representational deficits that may contribute to post-partum depression and describes how previewing may help to resolve this depression.
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Paul V. Trad, M.D.
Paul V. Trad, M.D., is the Director of the Child and Outpatient Department at New York Hospital, Westchester Division, and is an Assistant Professor of Psychiatry on the faculty of Cornell University Medical College.