Different patterns of depressive symptoms during pregnancy

S.E.M. Truijens, V.R.M. Spek, M.J.M. van Son, S.G. Oei, V.J.M. Pop

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

34 Citations (Scopus)
138 Downloads (Pure)


Recently, the US Preventive Services Task Force has advocated to screen pregnant and postpartum women for depression. However, we questioned the meaning of a single elevated depression score: does it represent just one episode of depression or do these symptoms persist throughout the entire pregnancy? This study assessed depressive symptoms at each trimester in a cohort of 1813 pregnant women and evaluated whether women with different patterns of depressive symptoms showed other characteristics. Depending on the trimester, elevated depression scores were prevalent in 10–15% of the pregnant women. Up to 4% reported persistent symptoms of depression throughout pregnancy. Different patterns of depressive symptoms were observed, for which persistent symptoms were related to other characteristics than incidentally elevated symptoms. Besides a previous history of mental health problems as best overall predictor, incidentally elevated depression scores were related to major life events. Furthermore, persistently depressive symptoms were related to unplanned pregnancy and multiparity. An EDS assessment at 12 weeks of gestation including three additional items (history of mental health problems, unplanned pregnancy and multiparity) enabled us to identify 83% of the women with persistent depressive symptoms. A depression screening strategy in pregnant women should take into account the potential chronicity of depressive symptoms by repeated assessments in order to offer an intervention to the most vulnerable women.
Keywords: Depression, Depressive symptoms, Pregnancy, EDS, Questionnaire assessments
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)539–546
JournalAchives of Women's Mental Health
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2017


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