Prevalence, course, and risk factors for antenatal anxiety and depression

Obstet Gynecol. 2007 Nov;110(5):1102-12. doi: 10.1097/01.AOG.0000287065.59491.70.


Objective: To estimate the prevalence and course of antenatal anxiety and depression across different stages of pregnancy, risk factors at each stage, and the relationship between antenatal anxiety and depression and postpartum depression.

Methods: A consecutive sample of 357 pregnant women in an antenatal clinic in a regional hospital was assessed longitudinally at four stages of pregnancy: first trimester, second trimester, third trimester, and 6 weeks postpartum. The antenatal questionnaire assessed anxiety and depression (using the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale) and demographic and psychosocial risk factors. The postpartum questionnaire assessed postpartum depression with the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale.

Results: More than one half (54%) and more than one third (37.1%) of the women had antenatal anxiety and depressive symptoms, respectively, in at least one antenatal assessment. Anxiety was more prevalent than depression at all stages. A mixed-effects model showed that both conditions had a nonlinear changing course (P<.05 for both), with both being more prevalent and severe in the first and third trimesters. Risk factors were slightly different at different stages. Both antenatal anxiety (adjusted odds ratio [OR] 2.66, P=.004 in the first trimester; adjusted OR 3.65, P<.001 in the second trimester; adjusted OR 3.84, P<.001 in the third trimester) and depression (adjusted OR 4.16, P<.001 in the first trimester; adjusted OR 3.35, P=.001 in the second trimester; adjusted OR 2.67, P=.009 in the third trimester) increased the risk of postpartum depression.

Conclusion: Antenatal anxiety and depression are prevalent and serious problems with changing courses. Continuous assessment over the course of pregnancy is warranted. Identifying and treating these problems is important in preventing postpartum depression.

Level of evidence: II.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anxiety / epidemiology*
  • Depression / epidemiology*
  • Depression, Postpartum / etiology
  • Female
  • Hong Kong / epidemiology
  • Hospitals, University
  • Humans
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications / epidemiology
  • Pregnancy Complications / psychology*
  • Pregnancy Trimesters
  • Prenatal Diagnosis / psychology*
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors