Background: Depression after childbirth is a major problem affecting 10-22% of all mothers. In Italy, postnatal depression has not yet been systematically studied.
Methods: In this retrospective study we have sought to identify risk factors, assessed during pregnancy, and their importance for postnatal depression symptoms in a sample of 297 Italian women attending ante-natal classes organised by the local Consultorio Familiare Unit of the National Health Service, Italy. The Postpartum Depression Predictors Inventory - revised form (PDPI-Revised), was used to identify risk factors, 8-9 month of pregnancy. A double-test strategy using the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS) and 12-item General Health Questionnaire (GHQ12), was administered to screen women with a higher occurrence of symptoms of postnatal depression six-eight weeks after delivery. Women with high EPDS (<8) and high GHQ12 (<3) scores were compared with those who had scored below the EPDS and/or GHQ12 threshold scores.
Results: We found that 13% of the women studied showed high postnatal depressive symptomatology, which is very similar to rates of prevalence of postnatal depression in the first year after the birth of the child reported in other Western World studies. Feeling anxious during pregnancy is a strong predictor of high symptoms of depression at 6-8 weeks after delivery. However, University education and friends' support appear to be important protective factors.
Conclusion: These findings could be useful both for Italian health professionals and for researchers interested in the transcultural aspects of postnatal depression.