Caesarean delivery and the use of antidepressants (Bíró, Elek 2020)

European Journal of Public Health, DOI: 10.1093/eurpub/ckaa047


The high ratio of caesarean sections (C-sections) is a major public health issue in the developed world; but its implications on maternal mental health are not well understood.


We use individual-level administrative panel data from Hungary between 2010 and 2016 to analyze the relationship between caesarean delivery and antidepressant consumption, an objective indicator of mental health. We focus on low-risk deliveries of mothers without subsequent birth in 3 years, and include around 135 000 observations.


After controlling for medical and socio-economic variables, antidepressant use before delivery is associated with an elevated risk of C-section (adjusted OR = 1.10, 95% CI 1.05–1.14) and C-section is associated with a higher probability of antidepressant use within 1–3 years after delivery (e.g. adjusted OR = 1.21, 95% CI 1.12–1.30, within 3 years after delivery, among mothers without pre-delivery antidepressant consumption). Our data restriction ensures that the results are not driven by a mechanical impact of decreasing fertility on the continuation of antidepressant use after a C-section.


The results suggest that C-section is associated with worse mental health over the 1- to 3-year horizon after birth. This relationship is particularly important if a caesarean delivery is not necessary due to medical reasons, and physicians as well as expectant mothers should be made aware of the potential mental health implications of the mode of delivery.