Epidemiology and Psychiatric Sciences

Original Articles

Prevalence and predictors of maternal postpartum depressed mood and anhedonia by race and ethnicity

C. H. Liua1 c1 and E. Tronicka2

a1 Department of Psychiatry, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School, Boston, USA

a2 Department of Psychology, University of Massachusetts, Boston, USA


Aims. Depression requires the presence of either depressed mood or anhedonia, yet little research attention has been focused on distinguishing these two symptoms. This study aimed to obtain the prevalence rates of these two core depression symptoms and to explore the risk factors for each symptom by race/ethnicity.

Methods. 2423 White, African American, Hispanic and Asian/Pacific Islander (API) women from the Massachusetts area completed the Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System (PRAMS) from 2007 to 2008.

Results. Socioeconomic variables (SES) accounted for increased rates in depressed mood and anhedonia among African Americans and Hispanics compared with Whites. API women were still 2.1 times more likely to report anhedonia after controlling for SES. Stressors were associated with depressed mood across groups and associated with anhedonia for Whites and Hispanics. Having a female infant was associated with depressed mood for APIs. Being non-US born was associated with anhedonia for Whites, APIs and African Americans, but not Hispanics.

Conclusions. Prevalence rates for depressed mood and anhedonia differ across race/ethnic groups and risks associated with depressed mood and anhedonia depend on the race/ethnic group, suggesting the importance of distinguishing depressed mood from anhedonia in depression assessment and careful inquiry regarding symptom experiences with a diverse patient population.

(Received April 11 2013)

(Revised June 05 2013)

(Accepted June 07 2013)

(Online publication August 12 2013)

Key words

  • Anhedonia;
  • depression;
  • health status disparities;
  • life stress;
  • postpartum depression


c1 Address for correspondence: Dr C. H. Liu, Department of Psychiatry, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School, 75 Fenwood Road, Boston, MA 02115, USA. (Email: cliu@bidmc.harvard.edu)