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J Affect Disord. 2004 May;80(1):65-73.

The course of anxiety and depression through pregnancy and the postpartum in a community sample.

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  • 1University of Bristol, UK.



Postnatal and antenatal depression are a focus of considerable clinical and research attention, but little is known about the patterns of anxiety across this period.


Self-reported anxiety and depression were assessed at 18 and 32 weeks gestation and 8 weeks and 8 months postnatally in a prospective longitudinal study of a community sample of women in England (n=8323).


The majority of cases of postnatal depression were preceded by antenatal depression; similarly, postnatal anxiety was preceded by antenatal anxiety. Despite the stability of anxiety and depression across this period, there was a mean decrease in both anxiety and depression. Finally, antenatal anxiety predicted postnatal depression at 8 weeks and 8 months, even after controlling for antenatal depression (OR=3.22, p<0.001).


Data were based on self-report only and there was evidence of selective attrition.


The findings confirm that antenatal anxiety occurs frequently, overlaps with depression and increases the likelihood of postnatal depression.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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