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Pharmacotherapy. 2019 Oct;39(10):994-1004. doi: 10.1002/phar.2320. Epub 2019 Sep 15.

Dexmedetomidine Alleviates Postpartum Depressive Symptoms following Cesarean Section in Chinese Women: A Randomized Placebo-Controlled Study.

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Department of Anesthesiology, Third Xiangya Hospital of Central South University, Changsha, China.



Few studies have investigated the prophylactic efficacy of dexmedetomidine (DEX) in postpartum depressive symptoms (PDS). A randomized double-blind placebo-controlled trial was conducted to investigate whether the administration of DEX, immediately after delivery and for patient-controlled intravenous analgesia (PCIA), can attenuate PDS.


A total of 600 parturients scheduled for elective cesarean delivery under spinal anesthesia were randomly allocated into the control group (infusion with 0.9% normal saline after delivery and PCIA with sufentanil) and the DEX group (DEX infusion 0.5 μg/kg after delivery and PCIA with DEX plus sufentanil). The prevalence of postpartum depressive disorders was indicated by the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS). Postoperative analgesia, sedation, and sleep quality of parturients were also assessed.


Postpartum blues and PDS prevalence in the DEX, versus control, group were significantly lower (5.0% vs 14.1%, p<0.001; 5.7% vs 16.3%, p<0.001, respectively), especially in parturients with antenatal depression or moderate stress during pregnancy. Compared with the control group, the EPDS score at postpartum days 7 and 42 in the DEX group was significantly lower (4.23 ± 4.37 vs 1.93 ± 3.36, p<0.001; 4.68 ± 4.78 vs 1.99 ± 3.18, p<0.001, respectively), as was the incidence of postpartum self-harm ideation at postpartum days 7 and 42 in the DEX group versus the control group (1.1% vs 4.0%, p=0.03; 0.4% vs 2.9%, p=0.04, respectively). The pain score and the sleep quality in the DEX group were better than that in the control group (p<0.001).


The application of DEX in the early postpartum period can significantly attenuate the incidence of postpartum depressive disorders.


dexmedetomidine; postpartum depressive symptoms; α2-Adrenoceptor


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