, Volume 11, Issue 1, pp 43-48
Date: 14 Feb 2008

Depression symptoms during pregnancy

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Summary

Pregnancy impacts common symptoms of major depressive disorder (MDD), such as energy, appetite, weight change, and sleep and somatic complaints. However, it is not known whether the presentation of depression during pregnancy is different from that at other times in women’s lives. This study compares the severity of symptoms of depression in 61 pregnant women with MDD (PD), 50 nonpregnant women with MDD (D), and 41 pregnant women without MDD (P). Despite equivalent overall depression severity, PD women had lower scores on suicidality, guilt, and early insomnia and higher scores on psychomotor retardation than D women. The severity of other depressive symptoms was similar in the two depressed groups. As expected on the basis of the selection criteria, overall depression severity and the severity of individual symptoms were significantly higher in the PD group than in the P group but effect sizes for somatic symptoms were smaller than for psychological symptoms. The results suggest that the profile of depression symptoms of women with MDD who are pregnant does not differ much from that of depressed nonpregnant women. Depressive symptoms, particularly psychological symptoms of depression, during pregnancy should be taken seriously and not be dismissed as a normal part of the pregnancy experience.

Correspondence: Rachel Manber, PhD, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Stanford University, 401 Quarry Road Suite 3301, Stanford, CA 94305, USA