‘Concerning’ Findings Emphasize Importance of Depression Screening


Overview: Researchers advocate screening for postpartum depression risk for women with ongoing depression while still pregnant.

Source: University of Queensland

Researchers at the University of Queensland are calling for perinatal depression (PND) screening for all women during pregnancy, after finding that women with persistent depression are at high risk of developing the condition.

PhD candidate Dr. Jacqueline Kiewa of UQ’s Child Health Research Center compared the perinatal experiences of women with lifelong major depression and found that nearly three-quarters of them had at least one episode of PND.

“Of the 7,182 study participants, 5,058 (70 percent) experienced perinatal depression,” said Dr. kiewa.

Those who experienced perinatal depression — during pregnancy or within six months of giving birth — were more likely to have severe, complex, and frequent depressive episodes and earlier onset of symptoms.

“These women were more likely to have other psychiatric conditions such as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, and were less responsive to antidepressants,” said Dr. kiewa.

Those who experienced perinatal depression — during pregnancy or within six months of giving birth — were more likely to have severe, complex, and frequent depressive episodes and earlier onset of symptoms. Image is in the public domain

The study found that they were also more likely to experience severe nausea and vomiting during pregnancy.

dr. Kiewa described the findings as worrying.

“In Australia, PND is a leading cause of illness in women giving birth and puts children at risk of developing cognitive and emotional problems,” she said.

dr. Kiewa said Australian women of non-European and Indigenous descent and those with a history of trauma had a higher risk of PND.

“Some of the features we identified suggest that environmental influences are the cause of PND in women with depression, while others point to genetic and biological reasons that may be specific to women and pregnancy,” she said.

“Very few PND studies have considered whether mothers have ADHD or other psychiatric conditions.”

“Therefore, it is important that perinatal depression screening be included in all perinatal studies.”

The research is published in the journal BMJ Open.

About this news about depression research

Author: press office
Source: University of Queensland
Contact: Press Office – University of Queensland
Image: The image is in the public domain

Original research: Open access.
“Lifetime prevalence and correlates of perinatal depression in a case cohort study of depression” by Jacqueline Kiewa et al. BMJ Open


Lifetime prevalence and correlates of perinatal depression in a depression case cohort study


This study aimed to evaluate the prevalence, time of onset, and duration of symptoms of perinatal depression (PND) symptoms in women with depression, depending on whether they had a history of depression prior to their first perinatal period. We further sought to identify biopsychosocial correlates of perinatal symptoms in women with depression.

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Design and setting

The Australian Genetics of Depression Study is an online cohort study on the etiology of depression. For a range of variables, women with depression who reported significant perinatal depressive symptoms were compared with women with lifelong depression who experienced no perinatal symptoms.


In a large sample of parous women with major depressive disorder (n=7182), we identified two subgroups of PND cases with and without prior depressive history (n=2261; n=878), respectively.

Primary and secondary outcome measures

The primary outcome measure was positive screening for PND on the lifetime version of the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale. Descriptive measures reported lifetime prevalence, timing of onset, and duration of PND symptoms. There were no secondary outcome measures.


The prevalence of PND among parous women was 70%. The majority of women reported at least one perinatal episode with symptoms both prenatal and postnatal. Among women who had depression prior to the first pregnancy, PND cases reported significantly more major depressive episodes (OR=1.15 per additional major depressive episode, 95% CI 1.13 to 1.17, p<0.001), non- European descent (OR 1.5, 95% CI 1.0 to 2.1, p=0.03), severe nausea during pregnancy (OR 1.3, 95% CI 1.1 to 1.6, p= 0.006) and emotional abuse (OR 1.4, 95% CI 1.1 to 1.7, p=0.005).


The majority of parous women with lifelong depression in this study had PND, associated with more complex, major depression. The results emphasize the importance of perinatal assessments of depressive symptoms, particularly for women with a history of depression or negative childhood experiences.

The Valley Voice
The Valley Voicehttp://thevalleyvoice.org
Christopher Brito is a social media producer and trending writer for The Valley Voice, with a focus on sports and stories related to race and culture.


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