Patients and methods: Multinational web-based study in 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 less than one year of age, could participate. We used the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS) to measure 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 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, both in the ante- (6.8-7.5% vs 4.3%) and postnatal period (7.6% vs 4.7%). One in two mothers with psychiatric disorders used antidepressant in pregnancy (86 out of 173). In the association analysis, women medicated at any time during pregnancy (adjusted β: -0.34, 95% 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 six months after childbirth.
Conclusions: 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 six-month period after childbirth, compared to the nonmedicated counterpart.
- pregnancy and postpartum