Aiming at perfectionism could make new mothers face the danger of postpartum depression, suggests a new study.
The research involved 100 first-time mothers in Toronto, Canada, who filled out questionnaires to assess their level and type of perfectionism as well as feelings of depression.
The results showed that a type of perfectionism in which individuals feel others expect them to be perfect, known as 'socially prescribed perfectionism,' is associated with postpartum depression for first-time mothers.
The link between perfectionism and postpartum depression was strongest amongst those who try to deal with perfectionism by appearing as if they don't have a problem.
This study is one of the first to look how perfectionism affects women's ability to adjust to life after childbirth.
"What this suggests is that there might be some new mothers out there who might seem like everything is fine, in fact it might seem like everything is perfect. But] in fact it's just the opposite, that they're feeling quite badly but they're pretty good at covering it up," Live Science quoted Gordon Flett, a professor of psychology at York University in Canada, as saying.
This finding is particularly concerning, because it means friends and family might not realize their loved one is suffering from depression.
"This tendency to put on this front usually means that people don't tell other people when they're doing badly, so somebody might not know that a young women is having difficulty; they might have no clue whatsoever. And there's sadly some cases where the family says 'We thought everything was fine,' and the next thing we know, the person is no longer with us," Flett said.
The results underscore the need to dispel the myth of the "perfect parent," Flett said.
The results were presented May 30 at the Association for Psychological Science Convention in Boston.