Prevention of Postpartum Depression: A Pilot Randomized Clinical Trial

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Abstract

Objective

The authors attempted to reduce the rate of postpartum depression in high-risk women and to increase the time to recurrence.

Method

Nondepressed pregnant women with at least one past episode of postpartum major depression were recruited into a randomized clinical trial. Mothers were assigned randomly to a 17-week trial of sertraline or placebo immediately after birth and assessed for 20 sequential weeks with the Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression.

Results

Of 14 subjects who took sertraline, one (7%) suffered a recurrence. Of eight subjects who were assigned to placebo, four (50%) suffered recurrences. This difference was significant. The time to recurrence was significantly longer in the sertraline-treated women than in the placebo-treated women.

Conclusions

Sertraline conferred preventive efficacy for postpartum-onset major depression beyond that of placebo.

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