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Promoting the well-being of mothers with multidisciplinary psychosocial interventions in the perinatal period

Promoting the well-being of mothers with multidisciplinary psychosocial interventions in the perinatal period

Pubblicato il: 15-05-2019

Antenatal depressive and anxiety symptoms are common and may persist over time after delivery, with negative consequences on the mothers and their children. Evidence on the efficacy of psychological and pharmacological interventions during pregnancy aimed at preventing post-partum depression is controversial.

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Antenatal depressive and anxiety symptoms are common and may persist over time after delivery, with negative consequences on the mothers and their children. Evidence on the efficacy of psychological and pharmacological interventions during pregnancy aimed at preventing post-partum depression is controversial.


G. Cauli1, E. Iapichino1, P. Rucci2, M. Quartieri Bollani1, A.M. Marconi3, M. Bassi4, C. Gala1
1 Division of Psychiatry, San Paolo Hospital, 51, ASST Santi Paolo e Carlo, Milan, Italy
2 Department of Biomedical and Neuromotor Sciences, University of Bologna, Via San Giacomo 12, 40126 Bologna, Italy

3 Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, San Paolo Hospital Medical School, University of Milan, ASST Santi Paolo e Carlo, Milan, Italy
4 Division of Psychiatry, ASST Grande Ospedale Metropolitano Niguarda, Milan, Italy


Background: Antenatal depressive and anxiety symptoms are common and may persist over time after delivery, with negative consequences on the mothers and their children. Evidence on the efficacy of psychological and pharmacological interventions during pregnancy aimed at preventing post-partum depression is controversial.

Methods: A consecutive sample of 318 women presenting for scheduled obstetric visits during pregnancy was screened for risk factors and anxiety or depressive symptoms. Based on the screening results, women were classified into three groups at increasing risk of post-partum depression (PPD) and were offered different interventions.

Results: Depressive or anxiety symptoms were found in 91 (28.6%) women, 89 (28.0%) had low risk of PPD and 138 (43.4%) had no risk of PPD. The multidisciplinary psychosocial interventions offered to women with clinical symptoms were well accepted, with an uptake of 76/91 (83.5%). Thirty-three women who did not improve with psychotherapy were offered sertraline or paroxetine as a second-line treatment: 7 accepted and 26 (78.8%) refused. Eleven women already on medication at baseline continued their treatment along with the MPI. The MPI interventions had some positive effects in terms of post-partum recovery, symptom reduction, and in preventing a new onset of depression. Among the 227 non-symptomatic during pregnancy, only 5 (2.2%) developed symptoms in the post-partum period. At 12 months post-partum, 84.6% of women who were symptomatic at 2 months post-partum recovered.

Limitations: Our results should be interpreted in light of important limitations, including the lack of a control group that was not offered the MPI, the lack of information on the reasons for refusal and discontinuation and on the number of psychotherapy sessions attended.

Conclusions: Our findings underscore the potential usefulness of MPI in recognizing early signs or symptoms during pregnancy and the advantage of building specific interventions for preventing post-natal depression. The MPI has positive effects on women with depressive or anxiety symptoms during pregnancy, that however did not exceed significantly those observed in women who refused the intervention. Thus, in the absence of a control group, our results are preliminary and warrant confirmation and testing in future randomized clinical trials.

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