Attachment insecurity, depression, and the transition to parenthood

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In a longitudinal study of adult attachment and depression during the transition to parenthood, 76 couples completed questionnaires on three occasions: during the second trimester of pregnancy, and six weeks and six months postbirth. On the first and second occasions, the couples were also interviewed about their experiences of pregnancy and parenthood, respectively. Measures were also completed at similar time intervals by a comparison group of 74 childless couples. Attachment security was assessed in terms of the dimensions of discomfort with closeness and relationship anxiety. Relationship anxiety was less stable for transition wives than for other participants. Relationship anxiety also predicted increases in new mothers’ depressive symptoms, after controlling for a broad range of other risk factors. However, the association between relationship anxiety and maternal depression was moderated by husbands’ caregiving style. Maternal depression was linked to increases in husbands’ and wives’ attachment insecurity and marital dissatisfaction. Results are discussed in terms of the impact of depression and negative working models of attachment on couple interaction.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: University of Queensland, Australia 2: Griffith University, Australia

Publication date: December 1, 2003

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