Negative relationships linked to worse physical and mental h
Postpartum women in bad romantic relationships are not only more likely to suffer symptoms of depression, but they are also at greater long-term risk of illness or death, according to new research.

The researchers examined how relationships and partner behavior are linked to depression and heart rate variability (HRV) in women between the third trimester of pregnancy and one year postpartum.

The researchers used the Positive and Negative Quality in Marriage Scale to measure negative relationship qualities and the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale to evaluate mental health. The researchers also monitored HRV during regular check-ins with the study participants throughout the first year postpartum.

During pregnancy, HRV naturally drops. The researchers found that postpartum women who had poor relationships with their spouses or partners were more likely to report symptoms of depression. These were linked to HRV that was more likely to remain low following pregnancy.

"High HRV is good. It means your body is well-equipped to deal with and recover from stressors," the doctor said. "Low HRV means your body isn't as capable of managing stress, and previous research has demonstrated that poorly managed stress can put you at greater risk of a host of health problems."

The research demonstrates a clear link between the quality of spousal relationships during pregnancy and postpartum depression and HRV, which ultimately can impact the long-term wellness and mortality of new mothers.

Psychoneuroendocrinology
Source: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.psyneuen.2021.105216
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