Original contribution

Archives of Women's Mental Health

, Volume 6, Issue 1, pp 51-57

Measurement issues in postpartum depression part 1: Anxiety as a feature of postpartum depression

  • L. E. RossAffiliated withSunnybrook and Women's College Health Sciences Centre, Women's College Campus and Departments of Psychiatry, Pharmacology and Medicine and Institute of Medical Science, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada
  • , S. E. Gilbert EvansAffiliated withSunnybrook and Women's College Health Sciences Centre, Women's College Campus and Departments of Psychiatry, Pharmacology and Medicine and Institute of Medical Science, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada
  • , E. M. SellersAffiliated withSunnybrook and Women's College Health Sciences Centre, Women's College Campus and Departments of Psychiatry, Pharmacology and Medicine and Institute of Medical Science, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada
  • , M. K. RomachAffiliated withSunnybrook and Women's College Health Sciences Centre, Women's College Campus and Departments of Psychiatry, Pharmacology and Medicine and Institute of Medical Science, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada

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Summary

We investigated the contribution of anxiety symptoms to scores on the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS) between 36 weeks gestation and 16 weeks postpartum in 150 women. The 3-item anxiety subscale of the EPDS accounted for 47% of the total score in late pregnancy, and 38% of the total score in the postpartum period. Two categories of anxiety were common in the perinatal period: subsyndromal, situational anxiety (in particular during the last weeks of pregnancy); and clinically significant comorbid anxiety, which was experienced by nearly 50% of clinically depressed pregnant and postpartum women. The close relationship between anxiety and depression raises questions about whether symptoms of anxiety might be more common in the perinatal period than in other depressions. A strong role for anxiety symptoms in postpartum depression, and implications for its etiology and treatment, are discussed.

Keywords: Postpartum depression; anxiety; Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale; mental health.