Postnatal SSRI treatment helps with postnatal depression–associated problems

06 Sep 2023
Postnatal SSRI treatment helps with postnatal depression–associated problems

Treating postnatal depression with selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) may be beneficial for both mothers and their children in the long term, with a recent study showing that SSRIs can reduce the risk of several negative outcomes, such as maternal depression and child behavioural problems, according to a study.

For the study, researchers used longitudinal data from the Norwegian Mother, Father and Child Cohort Study, which involved women who were recruited in weeks 17–18 of pregnancy and prospectively followed up after childbirth.

The analysis included a total of 61,081 mother-child dyads, including 8,671 (14.2 percent, mean age 29.93 years) who met the criteria for postnatal depression, 177 of whom (2.0 percent, mean age 30.20 years) received postnatal SSRI treatment. Postnatal depression diagnosis was defined as a score of 7 or greater on the 6-item version of the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale.

Maternal outcomes included self-reported depression symptomology and relationship satisfaction from childbirth to postpartum year 5. Child outcomes were maternal-report internalizing and externalizing problems, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) symptoms, and motor and language development at ages 1.5, 3, and 5 years.

Results showed that more severe postnatal depression symptomology was associated with a range of adverse maternal and child outcomes. In an analysis limited to the postnatal depression dyads, postnatal SSRI treatment weakened the negative associations between postnatal depression and maternal relationship satisfaction at postpartum month 6 and years 1.5 and 3, as well as between postnatal depression and child ADHD at age 5 years.

Postnatal SSRI treatment also attenuated the strength of the association between postnatal depression and maternal depression, partner relationship satisfaction, child externalizing problems, and ADHD up to 5 years after childbirth.

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