Original Article

Affective Temperaments May Predict Postpartum Depression: A Preliminary Study


  • Erson AKSU
  • Elmas BEYAZYÜZ

Received Date: 28.10.2020 Accepted Date: 11.12.2020 Nam Kem Med J 2021;9(1):18-23


Postpartum depression (PPD) is a serious clinical condition, which affects both mother and baby as well as partners. Although PPD is accepted as a mood disorder, there have been limited numbers of studies that investigated affective temperaments in PPD and pregnancy. Moreover, no study has been carried out on the subject of whether affective temperaments assessed during pregnancy can predict PPD.

Materials and Methods:

One hundred-fourteen pregnant women were included in present study considering specific criteria. Patients were assessed with the Temperament Evaluation of Memphis, Pisa, Paris and San Diego auto-questionnaire and socio-demographic forms during the third trimester of pregnancy. In the following four weeks of delivery, patients were assessed with the Edinburgh Postpartum Depression Scale for evaluating the presence of tendency to PPD.


The patients who had a tendency to PPD had significantly higher scores on all affective temperament scores except hyperthymic temperament. In logistic regression analysis, it was found that higher scores of cyclothymic temperament and anxious temperament (AT) were associated with tendency to PPD (Odds ratio: 1.26 and 1.47).


Cyclothymic and anxious temperaments are candidates for predicting tendency to PPD. Pregnant women, who have higher scores specifically for cyclothymic and ATs should be considered in terms of affective disorders.

Keywords: Postpartum, depression, affective, temperament


Depressive disorder is one of the most common cause of disability in women in the whole World and the prevalence of depression is twice the number in women compared to men1. Postpartum phase is also an important time interval for developing depression among women. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-5th Edition (APA 20013) describes the postpartum depression (PPD) as a depressive state that has symptoms ranging from moderate to severe, which begins during four weeks after delivery2-4.

Postpartum psychiatric disorders consist of PPD, postpartum blues and postpartum psychosis5. PPD causes severe social and occupational functional impairments and is closely associated with problems in interactions with partner, family and baby6-8. The strongest risk factors for PPD have been identified as antenatal depression or anxiety, history of major depressive disorder, problems in marriage, poor social support and stressing life events9,10. Furthermore patients with a history of PPD have been reported to have higher percentages of PPD subsequent to deliveries11,12.

Currently, affective temperaments are considered to be predictors of some mood disorders13. Depressive temperament (DT) was reported to be related to depressive disorder, and irritable temperament (IT), hyperthymic temperament (HT) were considered to be associated with bipolar 1 disorder, and cyclothymic temperament (CT) was regarded as a tendency to bipolar 2 disorder13,14. However, there have been limited numbers of studies that investigated affective temperaments during pregnancy and postpartum period. Yazici et al.15 reported that affective temperament scores of pregnant women were different from those of healthy control group. Another current study reported that pregnancy and postpartum periods correlated with HT in women without psychiatric diagnosis15. There has been only one study that assessed affective temperaments in patients with PPD16. However, no study assessing whether affective temperaments evaluated during pregnancy may predict PPD has been carried out.

In the present study, we aimed to investigate whether there would be associations between affective temperaments assessed during pregnancy and PPD. We hypothesized that some affective temperaments could predict PPD.


The present study was conducted at Tekirdağ Namık Kemal University Faculty of Medicine, Departments of Gynecology and Obstetrics and Psychiatry. It was approved by Tekirdağ Namık Kemal University Non-Invasive Clinic Research Ethical Committee (date and approval number: 2018/124/08/15).

Inclusion criteria were defined as being at the third period of pregnancy, having no previous or current psychiatric diagnosis, having enough education for being able to complete the self-assessment tests that were used in the present study, and being willing to be participate in the study. Patients who had previous or current psychiatric diagnosis, who had insufficient knowledge for understanding the aim of the study as well as tests that were used in the study, and who were unwilling to participate in the study were excluded. According to inclusion and exclusion criteria, 170 female patients, who were at the 3rd trimester of their pregnancy, were initially involved in the present study. All of the patients completed the Temperament Evaluation of Memphis, Pisa, Paris and San Diego Auto-questionnaire (TEMPS-A) form and socio-demographic form during pregnancy. After delivery, all patients, who completed TEMPS-A, were evaluated by the Edinburgh Postpartum Depression Scale (EPDS) at the routine controls in the four weeks after delivery. As 114 patients completed the second round, 114 patients were finally included in the study. All patients signed written informed consent form before participating in the study.

Assessment Tools

Socio-demographic Form

This form was created by authors in the light of the literature. This form consists of the data on age, duration of marriage, having a child, education and occupation status, family structure, income rate, place of birth, status of cigarette, and alcohol use.

Temperament evaluation of Memphis, Pisa, Paris and San Diego Auto-questionnaire

The TEMPS-A is a scale that was originally designed by Vahip et al.17 and then adopted into Turkish by Vahip et al.17. In the present study, this scale was used to evaluate the scores of subdimensions. It is a self-assessment scale, involving “true” or “false” indications that ask about mood and temperament properties of the entire life of the individual. The subdimensions consist of depressive, cyclothymic, hyperthymic, irritable (DT, CT, HT, IT), and anxious temperaments (AT).

The Edinburgh Postpartum Depression Scale

EPDS was created by Cox et al., and translated and adapted to Turkish by Engindeniz et al.18 (1997). The purpose of the scale is to evaluate women’s PPD levels and it consists of ten items rated on a four-point Likert scale ranging from 0 to 3. The lowest total score that can be obtained is 0, and the highest is 30. Individuals, who score 13 or more, are considered to be at risk of depression.

Statistical Analysis

Statistical analyses were conducted with R 3.5.3, SPSS 23.0., STATA 14.0 and G * Power 3.1. Power analysis was performed to determine the power of the study. We defined a new variable by using EPSD score with its cut-off point. According to that, we tried to predict the redefined EPSD variable by using the Binary Outcome Logistic Regression. This new variable was also used to determine whether the mean of EPDS dimensions differed. For the assumptions of parametric tests, the Kolmogorov-Smirnov test was used to test for data normality and the box plot was also used. The Levine test was used for the variance homogeneity.

Power Analysis

The Mann-Whitney U test statistic with allocation ratio 0.29 was used as a test statistic. A sample size of 20 achieves 70% power to detect an effect size (d) of 1.3978 using the Mann-Whitney U test with a significance level (alpha) of 0.05. When the sample size is n=45, the power of the test has already achieved 95%. However, the sample size of the study was determined as 114. For the given parameters, for an alpha of 0.05 and a sample size of 114 observations, the type 2 error is 0.0003 and the power is ≌ 1.0 (Figure 1).


One hundred fourteen patients were included in the present study. The mean age of participants was 29.72±5.73 years. The median scores of DT, CT, HT, IT and AT were 4, 6, 10, 2 and 7, respectively. The numbers of patients, who scored 13 and higher on EPDS, were 26 (22.8%). The data of demographical and clinical variables of patients were demonstrated in Table 1.

The Kolmogorov-Smirnov test was used to examine the normality of the presence-absence of tendency to PPD distributions. None of them distributed normally. Both the Kolmogorov-Smirnov test and the box-plots showed that presence- absence of tendency to PPD distributions were skewed (Figure 2). For two independent samples comparison, the Mann-Whitney U test was applied when the assumption of normal distribution did not fit. According to the presence- absence of tendency to PPD based on EPDS, there were statistically significant differences between DT scores (absence: 4.34±2.83, presence: 6.35±2.91), CT scores (absence: 6.64±5.16, presence: 8.96±4.86), IT scores (absence: 2.80±2.85, presence: 5.27±4.31) and AT scores (absence: 6.12±6.00, presence: 14.35±5.76) (Table 2).

The general form of the logistic regression model is:


where logit(P)=Y is a dependent variable and x1,x2,x3,...,xk are independent variables.

The parameters of b1,b2,b3,...,bk are the logistic regression coefficients. The binary response variable is taken as 0 or 1. The value 1 means the presence of PPD and value 0 indicates the absence of PPD. The P is denoted as the probability of presences of tendency to PPD. A pseudo R2 greater than 2 indicates a relatively good fit; equals to 1 indicates a perfect fit and equal to 0 means no relationship. According to the Table 3, the model has a relatively good fit (pseudo R2=0.48). The Cox and Snell’s R2 and Nagelkerke R2 indicates that the independent variables can explain the dependent variables with the values of approximately 40% and 61%. For all that, the predicted accuracy was 94% for the absence of depression, the predicted accuracy was 73% for the presence of tendency to PPD and the overall predicted accuracy was 89%. The model was significant at 5% significance level. CT, AT, having a child, and place of birth had a statistically significant effect on the presence of tendency to PPD (Table 3).


In the present study, our main findings were as follows; except HT, all subdimensions of TEMPS-A were significantly higher in the patient group who scored ≥13 at the EPDS, which reflects tendency to PPD. Moreover, we found that higher scores of CT and AT were associated with tendency to PPD.

PPD is a severe mental disorder which affects both mother and child19-21. The exact etiology of PPD is considered unclear; however, biological factors such as ovarian steroids, oxytocin and glucocorticoids as well as other neurotransmitters, which are also associated with mood disorders, have been reported to be etiological factors6. Affective temperaments are among well-established factors for the development of affective disorders22,23. Akiskal ve Akiskal24 created the modern concept of affective temperaments for identifying all spectrum of affective situations from healthy reactions to major affective disorders.

There have been two studies that investigated affective temperaments in pregnant women. In the first study, Yazici et al.15 compared affective temperaments between pregnant women and healthy women and reported that cyclothymic, irritable and AT scores of the pregnant women were significantly lower in pregnant women, and they concluded that differences of affective temperaments could be associated with trimesters of pregnancy. Yazici et al.16 investigated affective temperaments between pregnant women in different trimesters, women who were at prenatal period and postpartum period, and age-matched healthy women. The researchers concluded that pregnancy and postpartum periods correlated with HT characteristics in women without active psychiatric diagnosis.

In our study, we compared affective temperaments, which were obtained at third trimester between pregnant women with and without tendency to PPD, based on EPDS. We found that except HT, all subdimensions of TEMPS-A were significantly higher in the patient group who scored ≥13 at the EPDS. These temperaments were reported more frequently in affective patients with mixed episodes indicating a relationship between mixed affective episodes and simultaneous presence of inverse temperamental types25.

From this perspective, we can say that affective temperaments differed in pregnant women with and without the risk for postpartum depressive disorder. However, our main purpose was to provide predictive roles of affective temperaments for developing postpartum depressive disorder. We performed logistic regression analysis and found that higher scores of CT and AT were associated with tendency to PPD (respectively Odds ratio; 1.26 and 1.47). There has been only one study that investigated affective temperaments in patients, who were diagnosed with PPD. In this study, affective temperament and the presence of postpartum depressive disorder were assessed simultaneously and it was reported that cyclothymic and AT were among the significant risk factors independently from psychosocial factors17. The methodology of our study differed from Masmoudi et al.’s26 research. Firstly, we assessed affective temperaments in women at third trimester of pregnancy, who had no present or previous psychiatric disorder. Secondly, our study is a follow-up study that investigated the patients in both pregnancy and postpartum periods. Our results are first to show cyclothymic and AT as candidates for developing tendency for postpartum depressive disorder. Additionally, having a child and place of birth were found to be other risk factors for postpartum depressive disorder.

Study Limitations

Although we performed power analysis for the present study, the numbers of patients can be considered small for making a general conclusion in terms of identifying predictors for postpartum depressive disorder. This is the major limitation of our study. Including the pregnant women without psychiatric disorder, assessing the patients at the same trimester, evaluating the PPD in the first four weeks and prospective design of our study can be regarded as the strengths of our study.


In conclusion, we argue that cyclothymic and AT can be considered candidates for predicting tendency to PPD beside other risk factors. Pregnant women who have higher scores specifically for cyclothymic and AT should be evaluated in terms of affective disorders.


Ethics Committee Approval: It was approved by Tekirdağ Namık Kemal University Non-Invasive Clinic Research Ethical Committee (date and approval number: 2018/124/08/15).

Informed Consent: Consent form was filled out by all participants.

Peer-review: Externally peer-reviewed.

Authorship Contributions

Surgical and Medical Practices: E.A., E.B., Concept: E.A., E.B., Design: E.A., E.B., Data Collection or Processing: E.A., E.B., Analysis or Interpretation: E.A., E.B., Literature Search: E.A., E.B., Writing: E.A., E.B.

Conflict of Interest: No conflict of interest was declared by the authors.

Financial Disclosure: The authors declared that this study received no financial support.


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