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Sleep medicine


OBJECTIVES: This prospective study explored associations among insomnia, nocturnal cognitive hyperarousal, and nocturnal perinatal-focused rumination with suicidal ideation (SI) in perinatal women with depression.

METHODS: From late pregnancy through early postpartum, 39 depressed women completed 17 weekly surveys assessing SI, insomnia, depression, stress, and cognitive arousal.

RESULTS: Women with nocturnal cognitive hyperarousal at baseline, relative to those with low cognitive arousal, were at greater risk for new onset SI (33% vs 1%). Moreover, nocturnal perinatal-focused rumination was independently associated with SI. SI-risk was highest when women reported clinical insomnia combined with nocturnal cognitive hyperarousal (OR = 5.66, p = 0.037) or perinatal-focused rumination (OR = 11.63, p = 0.018). Daytime perseverative thinking was not uniquely associated with SI.

CONCLUSIONS: Nocturnal cognitive arousal predicts the development of new onset SI, and perinatal-focused rumination is also uniquely associated with SI-risk in late pregnancy and early parenting. Critically, SI-risk is highest when perinatal women endorsed insomnia and high cognitive arousal at the same time. Future research should determine whether alleviating nocturnal cognitive arousal, pregnancy- and fetal/infant-related concerns, and insomnia with psychotherapy reduces SI for women with perinatal depression.

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