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Yonsei Med J. 2008 Aug 30;49(4):553-62. doi: 10.3349/ymj.2008.49.4.553.

Antenatal cognitive-behavioral therapy for prevention of postpartum depression: a pilot study.

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  • 1Department of Preventive Medicine, College of Medicine, The Catholic University, 505 Banpo-dong, Seocho-gu, Seoul 137-701, Korea.



To examine the efficacy of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) for the prevention of postpartum depression (PPD) in "at risk" women.


We recruited 927 pregnant women in 6 obstetric and gynecology clinics and screened them using Beck Depression Inventory (BDI). Ninety-nine of the screened women who had significantly high scores in BDI (a score above 16) were selected for the study. They were contacted through by telephone, and 27 who had consented to participate in the study were interviewed via SCID-IV-I. Twenty-seven eligible women were randomly assigned to the CBT intervention (n = 15) and control condition (n = 12). All participants were required to complete written questionnaires, assessing demographic characteristics, depressive symptoms, negative thoughts, dyadic communication satisfaction, and global marital satisfaction prior to treatment and approximately 1 month postpartum. The 15 women in the CBT condition received 9 bi-weekly 1-hour individual CBT sessions, targeting and modifying negative patterns of thinking and behaviors occurring in the context of the dyadic relationship.


The analysis of covariance (ANCOVA) showed that there were significant differences in all postpartum measures between the 2 groups, indicating that our antenatal intervention with CBT was effective in reducing depressive symptoms and improving marital satisfaction, which lasted until the postpartum period.


Our pilot study has provided preliminary empirical evidence that antenatal CBT intervention can be an effective preventive treatment for PPD. Further study in this direction was suggested.

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