Recurrence of depression in the perinatal period: Clinical features and associated vulnerability markers in an observational cohort

Nina M. Molenaar, Marlies E. Brouwer, Astrid M. Kamperman, Huibert Burger, Alishia D. Williams, Witte J.G. Hoogendijk, Claudi L.H. Bockting, Mijke P. Lambregtse-van den Berg

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Objective Antidepressant medication is commonly used for the prevention of depression recurrence in the perinatal period, yet it is unknown what vulnerability markers may play a role in recurrence. The objective of the current study was to provide a descriptive overview of the associated characteristics of women who experienced a perinatal recurrence of depression despite ongoing antidepressant use, and further, to identify clinically measurable vulnerability markers associated with recurrence. Methods Eighty-five pregnant women with a history of depression who used antidepressants (e.g. Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors or Serotonin and Noradrenaline Reuptake Inhibitors) at the start of the study were included. Clinical features, including information on psychiatric history and antidepressant use, were collected throughout the perinatal period (in this study defined as the period between 12 weeks of pregnancy untill three months postpartum). The clinical features of women experiencing recurrence of depression were described in detail. To identify vulnerability markers associated with recurrence of depression, we performed exploratory univariable logistic regression analyses. Results Eight women (9.4%) experienced a recurrence of depression; two during pregnancy and six in the first 12 weeks postpartum. All women with recurrence of depression had first onset of depression during childhood or adolescence and had at least 2 psychiatric co-morbidities. Identification of vulnerability markers associated with recurrence of depression yielded associations with depressive symptoms around 16 weeks of pregnancy (OR 1.28, 95%CI 1.08–1.52), number of psychiatric co-morbidities (OR 1.89, 95%CI 1.16–3.09) and duration of antidepressant use (OR 1.01, 95%CI 1.00–1.02). Conclusion Implementing adequate risk assessment in pregnant women who use antidepressants can help identify predictors for recurrence of depression in future studies and thus ultimately lead to improved care.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0212964
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2019


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