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BACKGROUND: Distinctions between major depressive disorder (MDD) and perinatal depression (PND) reflect varying views of PND, from a unique etiological subtype of MDD to an MDD episode that happens to coincide with childbirth. This case-control study investigated genetic differences between PND and MDD outside the perinatal period (non-perinatal depression or NPD). METHODS: We conducted a genome-wide association study using PND cases (Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale score ≥ 13) from the Australian Genetics of Depression Study 2018 data (n = 3804) and screened controls (n = 6134). Results of gene-set enrichment analysis were compared with those of women with non-PND. For six psychiatric disorders/traits, genetic correlations with PND were evaluated, and logistic regression analysis reported polygenic score (PGS) association with both PND and NPD. RESULTS: Genes differentially expressed in ovarian tissue were significantly enriched (stdBeta = 0.07, p = 3.3e-04), but were not found to be associated with NPD. The genetic correlation between PND and MDD was 0.93 (SE = 0.07; p = 3.5e-38). Compared with controls, PGS for MDD are higher for PND cases (odds ratio [OR] = 1.8, confidence interval [CI] = [1.7-1.8], p = 9.5e-140) than for NPD cases (OR = 1.6, CI = [1.5-1.7], p = 1.2e-49). Highest risk is for those reporting both antenatal and postnatal depression, irrespective of prior MDD history. CONCLUSIONS: PND has a high genetic overlap with MDD, but points of distinction focus on differential expression in ovarian tissue and higher MDD PGS, particularly for women experiencing both antenatal and postpartum PND.

Original publication




Journal article


Depress Anxiety

Publication Date





182 - 191


depression, genetics, personality/disorder, pregnancy and postpartum, Australia, Case-Control Studies, Depression, Depression, Postpartum, Depressive Disorder, Major, Female, Genome-Wide Association Study, Humans, Pregnancy, Risk Factors