Depression and anxiety during pregnancy and six months postpartum: a follow-up study

Acta Obstet Gynecol Scand. 2006;85(8):937-44. doi: 10.1080/00016340600697652.


Aims: To investigate the relationship between antenatal and postpartum depression and anxiety and to explore associated maternal characteristics.

Methods: From a population-based sample of 1,555 women attending two obstetric clinics in Sweden, all women with an antenatal psychiatric diagnosis (n = 220) and a random selection of healthy women (n = 500) were contacted for a second assessment three to six months postpartum. The Primary Care Evaluation of Mental Disorders was used for evaluation on both occasions.

Results: Fewer cases of depressive and/or anxiety disorders were prevalent postpartum compared with the second trimester screening. Depression and/or anxiety were prevalent in 16.5% of postpartal women versus 29.2% of pregnant women. There was a significant shift from a majority of subthreshold diagnoses during pregnancy to full Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (Fourth Edition) diagnoses during the postpartum period. A history of previous psychiatric disorder, living single, and obesity were significantly associated with a new-onset postpartum psychiatric disorder. The absence of a previous psychiatric disorder was significantly associated with a postpartum recovery of depression or anxiety.

Conclusions: Depression and anxiety appear to be less common postpartum than during pregnancy.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anxiety Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Depression, Postpartum / epidemiology*
  • Depressive Disorder / epidemiology*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications / epidemiology*
  • Prevalence
  • Sweden / epidemiology