Pregnancy and the postpartum may affect symptoms of depression. However it has not yet been tested how the symptoms used for the DSM IV diagnosis of depression discriminate depressed from non depressed women perinatally. A modified version of the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM IV (SCID interview) was used that allowed assessment of all associated DSM IV symptoms of depression with depressed and non depressed women in pregnancy and the postpartum period. Loss of appetite was not associated with depression either ante or postnatally. The antenatal symptom pattern was different from the postnatal. The sensitivity of the symptoms ranged from 0.7% to 51.6%, and specificity from 61.3% to 99.1%. The best discriminating symptoms were motor retardation/agitation and concentration antenatally, and motor retardation/agitation, concentration and fatigue postnatally. Depression in pregnancy and postpartum depression show significantly different symptom profiles. Appetite is not suitable for the diagnosis of depression in the perinatal period.