Archives of Women's Mental Health

, Volume 18, Issue 3, pp 539–546 | Cite as

Personality and risk for postpartum depressive symptoms

  • S. I. Iliadis
  • P. Koulouris
  • M. Gingnell
  • S. M. Sylvén
  • I. Sundström-Poromaa
  • L. Ekselius
  • F. C. Papadopoulos
  • A. Skalkidou
Original Article


Postpartum depression (PPD) is a common childbirth complication, affecting 10–15 % of newly delivered mothers. This study aims to assess the association between personality factors and PPD. All pregnant women during the period September 2009 to September 2010, undergoing a routine ultrasound at Uppsala University Hospital, were invited to participate in the BASIC study, a prospective study designed to investigate maternal well-being. Depressive symptoms were assessed with the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS) while the Depression Self-Rating Scale (DSRS) was used as a diagnostic tool for major depression. Personality traits were evaluated using the Swedish Universities Scale of Personality (SSP). One thousand thirty-seven non-depressed pregnant women were included in the study. Non-depressed women reporting high levels of neuroticism in late pregnancy were at high risk of developing postpartum depressive symptoms (PPDSs) at 6 weeks and 6 months after delivery, even after adjustment for confounders (adjusted odds ratio (aOR) = 3.4, 95 % confidence interval (CI) 1.8–6.5 and adjusted odds ratio (aOR) = 3.9, 95 % CI 1.9–7.9). The same was true for a DSRS-based diagnosis of major depression at 6 months postpartum. Somatic trait anxiety and psychic trait anxiety were associated with increased risk for PPDS at 6 weeks (aOR = 2.1, 95 % CI 1.2–3.5 and aOR = 1.9, 95 % CI 1.1–3.1), while high scores of mistrust were associated with a twofold increased risk for PPDS at 6 months postpartum (aOR 1.9, 95 % CI 1.1–3.4). Non-depressed pregnant women with high neuroticism scores have an almost fourfold increased risk to develop depressive symptoms postpartum, and the association remains robust even after controlling for most known confounders. Clinically, this could be of importance for health care professionals working with pregnant and newly delivered women.


Personality Neuroticism Mistrust Trait anxiety Postpartum depression 



We would like to sincerely thank all the women participating in the BASIC study as well as Charlotte Hellgren, Elin Bannbers, and Lena Moby for their creative thinking, hard work, and dedication in the organization and management of this project. This study was supported by the Swedish Research Council (grant number: 521-2010-3293), the Council for Working Life and Social Research (grant number: 2007–1955), the Marianne and Marcus Wallenberg Foundation (grant number: MMW2011.0115), the Swedish Medical Association (grant number: SLS-250581), and the Uppsala University Hospital (grant number: 2012-Skalkidou). The funders did not influence the study design, execution, manuscript, or publishing process.

Ethical standards

The study protocol was approved by the Uppsala Ethical Review Board. All women were informed about the course and aim of the study and gave their written informed consent. The investigation was carried out in accordance with the latest version of the Declaration of Helsinki.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Wien 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • S. I. Iliadis
    • 1
  • P. Koulouris
    • 2
  • M. Gingnell
    • 1
  • S. M. Sylvén
    • 1
  • I. Sundström-Poromaa
    • 1
  • L. Ekselius
    • 2
  • F. C. Papadopoulos
    • 2
  • A. Skalkidou
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Women’s and Children’s HealthUppsala University, Uppsala University HospitalUppsalaSweden
  2. 2.Department of Neuroscience, PsychiatryUppsala University, Uppsala University HospitalUppsalaSweden

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