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Maternal postadoption depression, unmet expectations, and personality traits

Maternal postadoption depression, unmet expectations, and personality traits

Journal of the American Psychiatric Nurses Association 18(5): 267-277

There are approximately 2 million adoptive parents in the United States and some struggle with depressive symptoms postplacement. We know little about personality traits that may be associated with depression in adoptive parents. This study describes the relationships between personality traits, unmet expectations, and maternal postadoption depression. Adoptive mothers (N = 136) were surveyed for depressive symptoms using the Center for Epidemiologic Studies-Depression Scale (CES-D) and the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS). Analyses included correlations and a regression analysis between depressive symptoms and unmet expectations with the Five-Factor Model personality traits (extraversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, emotional stability, openness to experience) as measured by the Ten-Item Personality Inventory. Both the CES-D and EPDS were significantly, negatively correlated with all five personality dimensions. Mothers whose expectations of themselves as parents matched pre- and postplacement were more likely to be emotionally stable and extraverted. Approximately 36% of the variance in depressive symptoms was explained by personality traits (emotional stability: p < .0001). The postadoption period is a crucial time of transition for mothers and their children. Maternal emotional stability, depressive symptoms, and unmet expectations may affect this period. Mothers who are lower in emotional stability may be at risk for postadoptive depressive symptoms. In planning and providing innovative care that promotes positive mother-child relationships, nurses should assess adoptive mothers for depressive symptoms, emotional stability, and unmet expectations.

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Accession: 036609793

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PMID: 22956715

DOI: 10.1177/1078390312457993

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