FRIDAY, Feb. 1, 2019 (HealthDay News) — Four maternal characteristics can predict 12-month trajectories for women with postpartum depression with 72.8 percent accuracy, according to a study published online Jan. 15 in Depression & Anxiety.

Sheehan D. Fisher, Ph.D., from the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, and colleagues assessed 12-month trajectories of postpartum depressive symptoms to identify predictive characteristics. The authors identified 507 women with a postpartum depressive disorder from a cohort delivering at an urban women’s hospital in Pittsburgh who had completed symptom severity assessments at four to eight weeks (intake), three months, six months, and 12 months. Interviews were conducted to evaluate depressive symptom severity, medical and psychiatric history, assessment of function, obstetric experience, and infant status.

The researchers identified three distinct trajectories of depressive symptoms among the women: gradual remission (50.4 percent), partial improvement (41.8 percent), and chronic severe (7.8 percent). Characteristics predictive of the chronic severe trajectory compared with the gradual remission and partial improvement trajectories included parity, education, and baseline global functioning and depression severity. These characteristics predicted the trajectory with 72.8 percent accuracy.

“By the time a mother comes in for her six-week postpartum visit, we have the potential to predict the severity of her depression over the next 12 months,” Fisher said in a statement. “This would be a game-changer for mothers and their clinicians because we could encourage early intervention so moms have better odds of success with their treatment over time.”

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