Archives of Women's Mental Health

, Volume 14, Issue 1, pp 3–11 | Cite as

Refugee, asylum seeker, immigrant women and postnatal depression: rates and risk factors

  • Catherine H. CollinsEmail author
  • Cathy Zimmerman
  • Louise M. Howard
Review Article


Postnatal depression (PND) is recognised as a common maternal health problem, but little evidence examines PND among refugee, asylum seeker and immigrant women in developed country settings. This review aimed to identify the rates of PND and highlight common risk factors among this group of women. An iterative and dynamic literature search was conducted across ten databases to identify published articles on PND among immigrant, asylum-seeking and refugee women in developed country settings. Medical Subject Headings (MeSH) and ‘free text’ search terms, as well as thesaurus terms, acronyms and truncation were used where appropriate. Findings suggest that PND may affect up to 42% of migrant women, compared to around 10–15% of native-born women. Common risk factors for PND among migrant women include history of stressful life events, lack of social support and cultural factors. With a growing number of babies born to immigrant mothers, greater awareness of PND among this group is needed in order to respond to their particular maternal mental health needs. Maternity care providers should regard all recent immigrants as at high risk of PND and give closer observation and support as necessary.


Immigrants Refugees Asylum seekers Women Postnatal depression Social support 


Conflicts of interests

None declared.

Details of ethics approval

None required.


This project was initially completed as part of an MSc and was not funded.

Supplementary material

737_2010_198_MOESM1_ESM.doc (26 kb)
ESM 1 Search strategy (DOC 26 kb)
737_2010_198_MOESM2_ESM.doc (32 kb)
ESM 2 Exclusion of identified articles for review (DOC 31 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Catherine H. Collins
    • 1
    Email author
  • Cathy Zimmerman
    • 2
  • Louise M. Howard
    • 3
  1. 1.Newcastle Reproductive Health Research TeamNewcastle upon TyneUK
  2. 2.London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine Gender Violence and Health CentreLondonUK
  3. 3.Section of Women’s Mental Health, Health Service and Population Research DepartmentPO31 Institute of Psychiatry & the National Institute for Health Research, ‘Biomedical Research Centre for Mental Health’ Institute of Psychiatry and South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation TrustLondonUK

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