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1.  When Depression Complicates Childbearing: Guidelines for Screening and Treatment during Antenatal and Postpartum Obstetric Care 
Prevalence studies show that one in five women experience an episode of major depressive disorder during their lifetime. The peripartum period constitutes a prime time for symptom exacerbation and relapse of depressive episodes. It is important for health care providers, specifically those in obstetric care, to be aware of (1) the frequency of depression in pregnant and postpartum women; (2) signs, symptoms, and appropriate screening methods; and (3) the health risks for the mother and growing fetus if depression is undetected or untreated. Because management of depressed peripartum women also includes care of a growing fetus or breastfeeding infant, treatment may be complex and requires input from a multidisciplinary team, including an obstetrician, psychiatrist, and pediatrician, to provide optimal care.
PMCID: PMC4327901  PMID: 19944300
Depression; Peripartum; Obstetric Care; Infant outcomes; Medication; Psychotherapy
2.  Depression in Childbearing Women: When Depression Complicates Pregnancy 
Primary care  2009;36(1):151-ix.
PMCID: PMC2680254  PMID: 19231607
4.  Predictors of Recovery from Prenatal Depressive Symptoms from Pregnancy Through Postpartum 
Journal of Women's Health  2012;21(1):43-49.
Identifying predictors of the course of depressive symptoms from pregnancy through postpartum is important to inform clinical interventions.
This longitudinal study investigated predictors of recovery from prenatal elevated depressive symptoms in the postpartum period. Forty-one pregnant women completed demographic, interpersonal, and psychosocial self-report assessment measures at 32 weeks of gestation and again 12 weeks postpartum.
Of those with elevated depressive symptoms, defined as a Beck Depression Inventory-II (BDI-II) score ≥10, at the prenatal baseline, 39% (n=16) recovered to nonelevated symptom levels postpartum, whereas 61% (n=25) experienced sustained elevated symptoms. Women who recovered evidenced significantly lower baseline depression severity and more frequent engagement in physical activity and cohabitated with a romantic partner. In multiparous women (n=25), history of past postpartum depression (PPD) differentiated between those with transient and those with persisting symptoms, although history of lifetime depression did not. None of the additional demographic, interpersonal, or psychosocial variables investigated differentiated between groups. Logistic regression analysis showed prenatal depression severity and exercise frequency as predictors of recovery postpartum.
Results suggest most women will not experience spontaneous recovery. Women with prenatal heightened symptom severity and previous experiences with PPD are acutely vulnerable to experience sustained symptoms. In contrast, having a cohabitating partner and engagement in prenatal exercise predicted symptom improvement. Physical exercise may be an important clinical recommendation, as it may improve mood. Given the small sample size, these results are preliminary. Implications and future research recommendations are discussed.
PMCID: PMC3256560  PMID: 22060255
5.  The Mothers, Omega-3, and Mental Health Study: a double-blind, randomized controlled trial 
Maternal deficiency of the omega-3 fatty acid, docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), has been associated with perinatal depression, but there is evidence that supplementation with eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) may be more effective than DHA in treating depressive symptoms. This trial tested the relative effects of EPA- and DHA-rich fish oils on prevention of depressive symptoms among pregnant women at an increased risk of depression.
We enrolled 126 pregnant women at risk for depression (Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale score 9–19 or a history of depression) in early pregnancy and randomly assigned them to receive EPA-rich fish oil (1060 mg EPA plus 274 mg DHA), DHA-rich fish oil (900 mg DHA plus 180 mg EPA), or soy oil placebo. Subjects completed the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI) and Mini-International Neuropsychiatric Interview at enrollment, 26–28 weeks, 34–36 weeks, and at 6–8 weeks’ postpartum. Serum fatty acids were analyzed at entry and at 34–36 weeks’ gestation.
One hundred eighteen women completed the trial. There were no differences between groups in BDI scores or other depression endpoints at any of the 3 time points after supplementation. The EPA-and DHA-rich fish oil groups exhibited significantly increased post-supplementation concentrations of serum EPA and serum DHA respectively. Serum DHA- concentrations at 34–36 weeks were inversely related to BDI scores in late pregnancy.
EPA-rich fish oil and DHA-rich fish oil supplementation did not prevent depressive symptoms during pregnancy or postpartum.
PMCID: PMC4010222  PMID: 23531328
depression; docosahexaenoic acid; eicosapentaenoic acid; fish oil; supplementation
6.  Sex Differences in Response to Citalopram: A STAR*D Report 
Journal of psychiatric research  2008;43(5):503-511.
Controversy exists as to whether women with depression respond better to selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) than men. The purpose of this report was to determine whether men and women differ in their responses to treatment with the SSRI citalopram using a large sample of real world patients from primary and psychiatric specialty care settings.
As part of the Sequenced Treatment Alternatives to Relieve Depression (STAR*D) study, 2876 participants were treated with citalopram for up to 12-14 weeks. Baseline demographic and clinical characteristics and outcomes were gathered and compared between men and women.
At baseline, women were younger, had more severe depressive symptoms and were more likely to have: early onset; previous suicide attempt(s); a family history of depression, alcohol abuse or drug abuse; atypical symptom features; and one or more of several concurrent psychiatric disorders. Despite greater baseline severity and more Axis I comorbidities, women were more likely to reach remission and response with citalopram than men.
Women have a better response to the SSRI citalopram than men, which may be due to sex-specific biological differences particularly in serotonergic systems.
PMCID: PMC2681489  PMID: 18752809
antidepressants; gender differences; estradiol; women's health; depression
7.  Mental health, substance use, and intimate partner problems among pregnant and postpartum suicide victims in the National Violent Death Reporting System 
General Hospital Psychiatry  2011;34(2):139-145.
Suicide during pregnancy and the postpartum is a tragic event for the victim and profoundly impacts the baby, the family, and the community. Prior efforts to study risks for pregnancy-associated suicide have been hampered by the lack of data sources which capture pregnancy and delivery status of victims. Introduction of the United States National Violent Death Reporting System (NVDRS) offers new insights into violent deaths by linking multiple data sources and allowing better examination of psychosocial risk factors.
The analysis used data from 17 states reporting to the NVDRS from 2003–2007 to evaluate suicide patterns among pregnant, postpartum, and non-pregnant or postpartum women. Demographic factors, mental health status, substance use, precipitating circumstances, intimate partner problems, and suicide methods were compared among groups.
The 2083 female suicide victims of reproductive age demonstrated high prevalence of existing mental health diagnosis and current depressed mood with depressed mood significantly higher among postpartum women. Substance use and presence of other precipitating factors were high and similar among groups. Intimate partner problems were higher among pregnant and postpartum victims. Postpartum women were more likely die via asphyxia as cause of death compared to poisoning or firearms
These findings describe important mental health, substance use, and intimate partner problems seen with pregnancy-associated suicide. The study highlights mental health risk factors which could potentially be targeted for intervention in this vulnerable population.
PMCID: PMC3275697  PMID: 22055329
Pregnancy; postpartum; suicide; mental health; intimate partner violence
8.  Risk factors for depressive symptoms during pregnancy: a systematic review 
The purpose of this study was to evaluate risk factors for antepartum depressive symptoms that can be assessed in routine obstetric care. We evaluated articles in the Englishlanguage literature from 1980 through 2008. Studies were selected if they evaluated the association between antepartum depressive symptoms and ≥1 risk factors. For each risk factor, 2 blinded, independent reviewers evaluated the overall trend of evidence. In total, 57 studies met eligibility criteria. Maternal anxiety, life stress, history of depression, lack of social support, unintended pregnancy, Medicaid insurance, domestic violence, lower income, lower education, smoking, single status, and poor relationship quality were associated with a greater likelihood of antepartum depressive symptoms in bivariate analyses. Life stress, lack of social support, and domestic violence continued to demonstrate a significant association in multivariate analyses. Our results demonstrate several correlates that are consistently related to an increased risk of depressive symptoms during pregnancy.
PMCID: PMC2919747  PMID: 20096252
depression; pregnancy; risk factor
9.  Gender Differences in Depression Symptoms in Treatment-Seeking Adults: STAR*D Confirmatory Analyses 
Comprehensive psychiatry  2008;49(3):238-246.
While epidemiologic research consistently reports greater prevalence of major depressive disorder in women, small sample sizes in many studies do not allow for full elaboration of illness characteristics. This paper examines gender differences in terms of illness attributes in a cohort of 2541 outpatients from across the United States who enrolled in the Sequenced Treatment Alternatives to Relieve Depression (STAR*D) study.
Confirmatory analyses were performed in 2541 outpatients comparing men and women with regard to socio-demographic features, comorbid Axis I and Axis III conditions, and illness characteristics. Results were compared to those of our previous report on the initial population of the first 1500 individuals enrolled in STAR*D.
In both samples, nearly two-thirds of the sample (62.5%) were women. Women had greater symptom severity, but men had more episodes of major depression, despite no difference in the length of illness. No differences in age of onset emerged. As in the first cohort, women showed greater rates of an anxiety disorder, bulimia and somatoform disorder, as well as more past suicide attempts, while men showed more alcohol and substance abuse. Women reported more appetite, weight, hypersomnia, interpersonal sensitivity, gastrointestinal and pain complaints, and less suicidal ideation. Irritability was equally common in men and women.
This large analysis confirmed most of the clinical features and co-morbidities found to be more prevalent in the first cohort of women. Additionally, this analysis corroborated previous research suggesting higher rates of atypical and anxious depression in women, but refuted the notion of an “irritable depression” found in men. The report confirmed the 1.7:1 ratio for depression seen across genders in the National Comorbidity Survey.
PMCID: PMC2759282  PMID: 18396182
Women; Depression; Prevalence; Gender

Results 1-9 (9)