Self-reported perinatal depressive symptoms and postnatal symptom severity after treatment with antidepressants in pregnancy: a cross-sectional study across 12 European countries using the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale
Purpose: This study aimed at exploring the prevalence of self-reported antenatal and postnatal depressive symptoms by severity across multiple countries and the association between antidepressant treatment in pregnancy and postnatal symptom severity.
Materials and methods: This was a multinational web-based study conducted across 12 European countries (n=8069). Uniform data collection was ensured via an electronic questionnaire. Pregnant women at any gestational week and mothers of children with <1 year of age could participate. We used the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS) to measure the prevalence of antenatal and postnatal depressive symptoms according to severity, which were corrected by survey weight adjustment (descriptive analysis). Within mothers with a psychiatric disorder (n=173), we estimated the association between antidepressant treatment in pregnancy and postnatal depressive symptom severity, as standardized EPDS mean scores, via the inverse probability of treatment weight (association analysis).
Results: In the descriptive analysis (n=8069), the period prevalence of moderate-to-very severe depressive symptoms was higher in the western and eastern regions relative to the northern region, both in the antenatal period (6.8%–7.5% vs 4.3%) and in the postnatal period (7.6% vs 4.7%). One in two mothers with psychiatric disorders used an antidepressant in pregnancy (86 of 173). In the association analysis, women medicated at any time during pregnancy (adjusted β=−0.34, 95% confidence interval [CI] =−0.66, −0.02) had a significant postnatal symptom severity reduction compared with the nonmedicated counterpart. This effect was larger (β=−0.74, 95% CI =−1.24, −0.24) when the analysis was restricted to mothers within 6 months after childbirth.
Conclusion: The prevalence of self-reported antenatal and postnatal depressive symptoms differs across European countries. Among women with psychiatric disorders, those who had been on treatment with antidepressants during pregnancy were less likely to report postnatal depressive symptoms, particularly within the 6-month period after childbirth, compared with the nonmedicated counterpart.
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