Prevalence, onset and comorbidity of postpartum anxiety and depressive disorders


Corinna Reck, Klinik für Allgemeine Psychiatrie, Zentrum für Psychosoziale Medizin, Vossstr. 2, 69115 Heidelberg, Germany.


Objective:  The study presents data on the 3-month prevalences of postpartum anxiety disorders (PAD) and postpartum depressive disorders (PDD) and their comorbidity in a German community sample. Associations with sociodemographic variables and previous history of psychopathology were analysed.

Method:  Data were gathered in a longitudinal study over the first 3 months postpartum. In a two-stage screening procedure, a population-based representative sample of 1024 postpartum women was assessed for symptoms of anxiety and depression using DSM-IV-based screening instruments.

Results:  The estimated rates of DSM-IV disorders were 11.1% for PAD and 6.1% for PDD. Comorbidity was found in 2.1%. The rate for PAD with postpartum onset was 2.2% and for PDD 4.6%. Young mothers and mothers with a low education level had a heightened risk of developing depression following delivery.

Conclusion:  Because of the clinical relevance of PAD, controlled studies and specialized programmes for prevention and treatment are urgently required.