Prevention of postpartum depression: a pilot randomized clinical trial

Am J Psychiatry. 2004 Jul;161(7):1290-2. doi: 10.1176/appi.ajp.161.7.1290.


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.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Depression, Postpartum / diagnosis
  • Depression, Postpartum / epidemiology
  • Depression, Postpartum / prevention & control*
  • Dizziness / chemically induced
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Pilot Projects
  • Placebos
  • Pregnancy
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Secondary Prevention*
  • Serotonin Uptake Inhibitors / adverse effects
  • Serotonin Uptake Inhibitors / therapeutic use*
  • Sertraline / adverse effects
  • Sertraline / therapeutic use*
  • Time Factors


  • Placebos
  • Serotonin Uptake Inhibitors
  • Sertraline