Diagnosing postpartum depression in mothers and fathers: whatever happened to anxiety?

Matthey, Stephen, Barnett, Bryanne, Howie, Pauline and Kavanagh, David J. (2003) Diagnosing postpartum depression in mothers and fathers: whatever happened to anxiety?. Journal of Affective Disorders, 74 2: 139-147. doi:10.1016/S0165-0327(02)00012-5

Author Matthey, Stephen
Barnett, Bryanne
Howie, Pauline
Kavanagh, David J.
Title Diagnosing postpartum depression in mothers and fathers: whatever happened to anxiety?
Journal name Journal of Affective Disorders   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0165-0327
Publication date 2003
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1016/S0165-0327(02)00012-5
Volume 74
Issue 2
Start page 139
End page 147
Total pages 9
Editor C. Katona
H. S. Akiskal
Place of publication The Netherlands
Publisher Elsevier
Collection year 2003
Language eng
Subject C1
321021 Psychiatry
730211 Mental health
Formatted abstract
Although anxiety disorders are documented in the literature for new mothers (but less so for fathers), rates of postpartum caseness tend to include only those with depression when diagnostic interviews or self-report measures validated on such interviews are used. This methodology therefore underestimates the true percentage of women and men who experience significant psychological difficulties postpartum. This has implications for assessment, treatment and screening for postnatal mood disorders.

Two studies were conducted on a total of 408 women and 356 men expecting their first child. They were recruited antenatally, and interviewed at 6 weeks postpartum using the Diagnostic Interview Schedule. DSM-IV criteria were applied to determine the presence since birth of depression (major or minor), panic disorder, acute adjustment disorder with anxiety (meeting the criteria for generalised anxiety disorder except for the duration criterion), and phobia.


The inclusion of diagnostic assessment for panic disorder and acute adjustment disorder with anxiety increased the rates of caseness by between 57 and 100% for mothers, and 31-130% for fathers, over the rates for major or minor depression. Inclusion of assessment for phobia further increased the rates of disorder in both samples. Couple concordance rates were between 6.6 and 11.1%, with no significant difference between rates for depressive or depressive and anxious caseness. For women, a previous history of an anxiety disorder appears to be a greater risk factor for a postnatal mood disorder (i.e. depression or anxiety) than a history of a depressive disorder.


These results clearly show the need to assess for both depression and anxiety in new and expectant parents, and we believe the term 'postnatal mood disorder' (PMD), rather than postnatal depression, more accurately reflects significant adjustment difficulties in new parents. (C) 2002 Published by Elsevier Science B.V..
Keyword Clinical Neurology
Postnatal Depression
Community Sample
Q-Index Code C1

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Excellence in Research Australia (ERA) - Collection
2004 Higher Education Research Data Collection
School of Medicine Publications
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Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 227 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
Scopus Citation Count Cited 267 times in Scopus Article | Citations
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Created: Wed, 15 Aug 2007, 02:50:08 EST