Original Article

Archives of Women's Mental Health

, Volume 17, Issue 1, pp 27-40

First online:

An examination of prenatal and postpartum depressive symptoms among women served by urban community health centers

  • Abbey C. SidebottomAffiliated withAllina Health Email author 
  • , Wendy L. HellerstedtAffiliated withDivision of Epidemiology and Community Health, University of Minnesota, School of Public Health
  • , Patricia A. HarrisonAffiliated withMinneapolis Department of Health
  • , Deborah HennrikusAffiliated withDivision of Epidemiology and Community Health, University of Minnesota, School of Public Health

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We characterized depressive symptoms in the prenatal and/or postpartum periods and examined associated risk factors among 594 women who received care at community health care centers. Women were screened with comprehensive risk assessments, which included the Patient Health Questionnaire-9 depression screen, during pregnancy and at least 4 weeks after delivery. Fifteen percent had depressive symptoms in the prenatal period only; 6 % in the postpartum period only, and 8 % had depressive symptoms in both periods. Risk markers varied for women who reported depressive symptoms at one period only compared with those who reported persistent depressive symptoms. Age (25 years versus younger), having experienced abuse, not living with the infant’s father, and cigarette smoking were associated with depressive symptoms at both periods; being US-born, lacking social support, and experiencing food insecurity were associated with reporting symptoms only in the prenatal period, and lack of phone access was associated with risk only in the postpartum period. Our findings confirm the importance of repeated screenings for depressive symptoms during the perinatal period. The variability in risk markers associated with periods of reported depressive symptoms may reflect their varying associations with persistence, new onset, or recovery from depressive symptoms.


Prenatal depression Postpartum depression Depression screening