Postpartum depression (PPD) and postpartum psychosis (PPP) are linked to negative consequences for women and families. Virtual applications present a solution to the challenge of recruiting large samples for genetic PPD/PPP research. This study aimed to evaluate the feasibility of a protocol for enrolling Canadian women with PPD and PPP to a large international psychiatric genetics study using a mobile application (PPD-ACT), and identify clinically distinct subtypes of PPD in the recruited sample.
From April 2017–June 2019, Canadian women provided phenotypic data through the PPD-ACT app. Requests for a genetic sample were made from those with a current or past PPD episode based on an Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS) score > 12 with onset in pregnancy or 0–3 months postpartum, and from those self-reporting lifetime PPP. Latent class analysis (LCA) was used to identify clinically distinct PPD subgroups based on participant responses to the EPDS scale.
We identified 797 PPD cases, 404 of whom submitted DNA. There were 109 PPP cases, with 66 submitting DNA. PPD cases (86.7% White, mean 4.7 +/− 7.0 years since their episode) came from across Canadian provinces/territories. LCA identified two PPD classes clinically distinct by symptom severity:  moderate-severity (mean EPDS = 18.5+/− 2.5; 8.6% with suicidality), and  severe (mean EPDS = 24.5+/− 2.1; 52.8% with suicidality).
A mobile application rapidly collected data from individuals with moderate and severe symptoms of PPD, an advantage for genetics where specificity is optimal, as well as from women with a history of PPP, supporting future work using this approach.