A new concept of maternity blues: Is there a subgroup of women with rapid cycling mood symptoms?

V.J.M. Pop, S.E.M. Truijens, V.R.M. Spek, H. A. Wijnen, M.J.M. van Son, V. Bergink

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


Rapid cycling mood symptoms during the first postpartum week are an important aspect of maternity blues. The aim of this study is to identify women with these rapid cycling mood symptoms in the general population and to investigate possible risk factors of these symptoms.
The Maternity Blues Scale (MBS) was validated in The Netherlands in 949 women at one week postpartum. Personal and family history of mood disorders and obstetric demographics were collected and the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS) was completed. A 16-item three-factor MBS solution was found: depression, negative and positive affect. The latter two were used to define a rapid cycling mood symptoms group.
Using the 75th percentile cut-off, 20 (2%) women reported high negative/high positive affect (rapid cycling mood group) and 65 (7%) women were depressed (EPDS≥11). A previous episode of depression, major life events and instrumental delivery were independently related to depression (OR 3.5, 2.5 and 2.3, respectively) while only a history of depression in first-degree relatives was independently related to rapid cycling mood (OR 3.4, 95% CI 1.2–9.8).
Limitations First, no syndromal diagnoses were obtained for depression and rapid cycling mood disorder. Second, history of depression was self-reported (not based on structural psychiatric interviews). Third, our study was not designed to study the longitudinal follow-up of women with rapid cycling mood symptoms.
Conclusion the 16-item MBS could be useful in screening programs in detecting postpartum women at risk for (severe) mood disorders. Postpartum women with ‘rapid cycling mood symptoms’ can be identified with a possible more familiar form of mood disorder.
Keywords: Maternity blues, Postpartum, Depression, Rapid cycling mood, Self-assessment, Questionnaire
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)74-79
JournalJournal of Affective Disorders
Publication statusPublished - 2015


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