The course of anxiety and depression through pregnancy and the postpartum in a community sample

J Affect Disord. 2004 May;80(1):65-73. doi: 10.1016/j.jad.2003.08.004.


Background: Postnatal and antenatal depression are a focus of considerable clinical and research attention, but little is known about the patterns of anxiety across this period.

Methods: Self-reported anxiety and depression were assessed at 18 and 32 weeks gestation and 8 weeks and 8 months postnatally in a prospective longitudinal study of a community sample of women in England (n=8323).

Results: The majority of cases of postnatal depression were preceded by antenatal depression; similarly, postnatal anxiety was preceded by antenatal anxiety. Despite the stability of anxiety and depression across this period, there was a mean decrease in both anxiety and depression. Finally, antenatal anxiety predicted postnatal depression at 8 weeks and 8 months, even after controlling for antenatal depression (OR=3.22, p<0.001).

Limitations: Data were based on self-report only and there was evidence of selective attrition.

Conclusion: The findings confirm that antenatal anxiety occurs frequently, overlaps with depression and increases the likelihood of postnatal depression.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Anxiety Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Anxiety Disorders / epidemiology
  • Depression, Postpartum / diagnosis
  • Depression, Postpartum / epidemiology
  • Depressive Disorder / diagnosis*
  • Depressive Disorder / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Personality Inventory / statistics & numerical data
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications / diagnosis*
  • Pregnancy Complications / epidemiology
  • Pregnancy Trimester, Second
  • Probability
  • Prospective Studies
  • Puerperal Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Puerperal Disorders / epidemiology
  • Risk Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires