Hang Yu, Qing Shen, Emma Bränn, Yihui Yang, Anna Sara Oberg, Unnur Anna Valdimarsdóttir, Donghao Lu

Perinatal Depression and Risk of Suicidal Behavior

  • General Medicine

ImportanceSuicidal ideation is common among women with perinatal depression (PND). However, prospective data are limited on the risk, particularly long-term risk, of suicidal behavior (suicide attempt and completed suicide) among women with perinatal depression.ObjectiveTo examine the association between PND and risk of short- and long-term suicidal behavior.Design, Setting, and ParticipantsA nationwide population-matched cohort study was conducted in Sweden including 86 551 women with PND from 2001 to 2017 and 865 510 unaffected women individually matched on age and calendar year at delivery. Sibling comparison was used to account for familial confounding. Data were analyzed from January 2022 to November 2023.ExposurePND was identified through depression diagnosis or filled prescriptions of antidepressants from pregnancy to 1 year post partum in registers.Main Outcomes and MeasuresAll women were followed up for the first event of suicidal behavior recorded in registers. Hazard ratios (HR) of suicidal behavior were estimated using time-to-event analysis.ResultsWomen with PND (86 551 participants) received a diagnosis at a mean (SD) age of 30.67 (5.23) years. During a median (IQR) follow-up of 6.91 (3.62-10.88) years, 3604 events of suicidal behavior (incidence rate [IR], 5.62 per 1000 person-years) were identified among women with PND and 6445 (IR, 1.01 per 1000 person-years) among population-unaffected women. Women with PND had an elevated risk of suicidal behavior when compared with matched unaffected women (HR, 3.15; 95% CI, 2.97-3.35). Comparable, albeit somewhat attenuated, associations were yielded when comparing PND women with their PND-free sisters (HR, 2.75; 95% CI, 2.10-3.61). In the population-matched cohort, the association was greater for postnatal depression and among women without a history of psychiatric disorders. The excess risk was pronounced during the first year after diagnosis (HR, 7.20; 95% CI, 6.07-8.54), yet remained statistically significant during 5 to 18 years of follow-up (HR, 2.34; 95% CI, 2.12-2.57).Conclusions and RelevanceIn this nationwide cohort study, women with PND were at an increased risk of suicidal behavior, particularly within the first year after diagnosis with persistent risk elevations throughout the 18 years of follow-up, highlighting the need for vigilant clinical monitoring of this vulnerable group.

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