Personality and risk for postpartum depressive symptoms
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.
KeywordsPersonality 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.
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.
- American Psychiatric Association (2000) Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders. American Psychiatric Association, Washington, DCGoogle Scholar
- American Psychiatric Association (2013) Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). Washington, DC. Google Scholar
- Bagby RM, Psych C, Quilty LC, Ryder AC (2008) Personality and depression. Can J Psychiatr Rev Can Psychiatr 53:14–25Google Scholar
- Gaynes BN et al. (2005) Perinatal depression: prevalence, screening accuracy, and screening outcomes. Evid Rep Technol Assess (Summ):1–8Google Scholar
- Lee DT, Yip AS, Leung TY, Chung TK (2000) Identifying women at risk of postnatal depression: prospective longitudinal study. Hong Kong Med J Xianggang yi xue za zhi/Hong Kong Acad Med 6:349–354Google Scholar
- Podolska MZ, Bidzan M, Majkowicz M, Podolski J, Sipak-Szmigiel O, Ronin-Walknowska E (2010) Personality traits assessed by the NEO Five-Factor Inventory (NEO-FFI) as part of the perinatal depression screening program. Med Sci Monit Int Med J Exp Clin Res 16:PH77–PH81Google Scholar
- Swedish Council on Technology Assessment in Health Care (SBU) (2012) Diagnostik och uppföljning av förstämningssyndrom. En systematisk litteraturöversikt. Statens beredning för medicinsk utvärdering. SBU-rapport nr 212. ISBN 978-91-85413-52-2. http://www.sbu.se/forstamningssyndrom. Accessed October 2012