Panic disorder during pregnancy and postpartum period

Eur Psychiatry. 2006 Oct;21(7):495-500. doi: 10.1016/j.eurpsy.2005.11.005. Epub 2006 Mar 10.


Background: Earlier studies on the influence of pregnancy and postpartum period on the course of panic disorder have been inconsistent. The present study aims to quantify panic manifestations in these periods in large sample of women.

Method: Panic manifestations, including exacerbations and new manifestations of panic disorder, were assessed retrospectively in a sample of 128 women with panic disorder with or without agoraphobia, 93 of whom had had 195 pregnancies.

Results: Panic manifestations were fewer during pregnancy and more frequent in the postpartum period when compared with the control period. Women who had never been pregnant had significantly more panic manifestations than women with prior pregnancies. Breastfeeding and miscarriages did not have a significant effect. Women with postpartum panic reported more psychosocial stress events during this period.

Conclusions: Possible reasons for postpartum panic and the protective effects of pregnancy are discussed, including psychosocial or hormonal factors and other neurobiological changes. Postpartum panic coincides with a sudden drop of hormones after delivery.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Agoraphobia / diagnosis
  • Agoraphobia / epidemiology
  • Agoraphobia / psychology
  • Comorbidity
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Depression, Postpartum / diagnosis
  • Depression, Postpartum / epidemiology
  • Depression, Postpartum / psychology
  • Female
  • Germany
  • Humans
  • Life Change Events
  • Panic Disorder / diagnosis*
  • Panic Disorder / epidemiology
  • Panic Disorder / psychology
  • Parity
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications / diagnosis*
  • Pregnancy Complications / epidemiology
  • Pregnancy Complications / psychology
  • Puerperal Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Puerperal Disorders / epidemiology
  • Puerperal Disorders / psychology
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors