Depression remains a neglected public health problem among pregnant women in Northwest Ethiopia

Beyene, G.M., Azale, T., Gelaye, K.A. et al. Depression remains a neglected public health problem among pregnant women in Northwest Ethiopia. Arch Public Health 79, 132 (2021).



Antenatal depression is highly prevalent but a neglected public health problem in low income countries. It has serious effects on the general health of women, birth outcomes and child health. However, there has been limited substantial evidence on the prevalence and predictors of antenatal depression in Ethiopia. This lack of evidence potentiates the consequences of the problem and can limit the attention to intervention. Thus, this study aimed to assess the prevalence and potential predictors of antenatal depression at Debre Tabor and Woreta towns, Northeast Ethiopia.


A community-based cross-sectional study was employed on 548 pregnant women recruited by a cluster sampling method. Depressive symptoms were measured using the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS). The List of Threatening Experiences Questionnaire (LTE-Q), the Oslo-3 Social Support Scale (OSSS-3), Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) Scale and Fast Alcohol Screening Test (FAST) were also used to measure stressful events, social support, intimate partner violence (IPV) and hazardous alcohol use respectively. Bivariable and multivariable logistic regression analyses were carried out to identify factors associated with antenatal depression.


The prevalence of antenatal depression was found to be 24.45% (95% CI: 21.20, 28.30%). Being single (AOR =3.32, 95% CI = 1.36, 8.09); fear of pregnancy complication (AOR = 3.84, 95% CI = 1.53,9.62); history of chronic illness (AOR = 8.14, 95% CI = 2.14, 30.91); unplanned pregnancy (AOR = 2.99, 95% CI = 1.36,6.55); history of stillbirth (AOR = 3.56, 95% CI = 1.23, 10.29),one or more negative life events (AOR = 4.06, 95% CI = 1.71, 9.66) and intimate partner violence (AOR = 3.91, 95% CI = 1.65, 9.26) were factors significantly associated with antenatal depression.


Nearly a quarter of pregnant women suffer from depressive symptoms during pregnancy. Being single; fear of pregnancy complication; history of chronic illness; unplanned pregnancy; history of stillbirth; one or more negative life events and intimate partner violence were important predictors of antenatal depression in this study. Health care workers should consider addressing these risk factors during a routine antenatal care. Also, integrating early screening, detection, and treatment of antenatal depression into routine antenatal care is warranted to improve the quality of life of pregnant women and pregnancy outcomes as well.

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