Background: Perinatal depression (PND) is a severe complication of pregnancy, but there are no established risk factors predicting the disease. Evening chronotype has been associated with unhealthy lifestyle habits and adverse outcomes during pregnancy. In this study, we aimed to clarify whether chronotype can predict symptoms and/or occurrence of PND. Methods: Two hundred ninety-nine women were followed-up from the first trimester of pregnancy until 6 months postpartum. Chronotype was assessed at baseline using the MEQ, while mood was repeatedly assessed by depression rating scales (EPDS, HDRS, MADRS). The influence of time and chronotype on EPDS, HDRS and MADRS, was estimated by constructing multilevel linear mixed regression models. A Cox proportional-hazard regression model was built to evaluate the association between chronotype and incidence of depression. Results: Chronotype modulated PND symptom severity depending on time of assessment, with evening chronotypes having a higher risk for developing PND symptoms, as assessed by EPDS, at postpartum visits V4 (5–12 days) and V5 (19–26 days). These also had less healthy lifestyle habits and were more likely to suffer from gestational diabetes mellitus and undergo cesarean delivery as compared to other chronotypes. Limitations: Only a minority of women were classified as evening chronotypes. The long follow-up phase of the study led to missing data. Conclusions: Pregnant evening chronotypes show unhealthy lifestyle habits and sociodemographic characteristics commonly associated with a higher risk for PND. They also have a higher risk of developing PND symptoms in the first month after delivery. Chronotype should therefore be routinely assessed during pregnancy to identify women potentially at risk for developing PND.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Affective Disorders
Pages (from-to)245-255
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - 15.11.2022

Research Areas and Centers

  • Academic Focus: Center for Brain, Behavior and Metabolism (CBBM)

DFG Research Classification Scheme

  • 110-05 Differential, Clinical and Medical Psychology, Methodology
  • 206-10 Clinical Psychiatry, Psychotherapy amd Paediatric and Juvenile Psychiatrie

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