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The postnatal period appears to be associated with higher rates of adjustment disorder, generalised anxiety disorder, and depression. Women who have a history of serious mental illness are at higher risk of developing a postpartum relapse, even if they have been well during pregnancy. Psychiatric causes of maternal death are more common than some direct causes of death. UK rates increased from 13/100,000 in 2006-2008 to 16/100,000 in 2010-2012, higher than, for example, mortality caused by haemorrhage or anaesthetic complications of childbirth. Postnatal depression is more severe than baby blues, follows a chronic course and may relapse outside the perinatal period. Although 13% of patients already have depression in pregnancy, the majority tend to be diagnosed after delivery; up to 19% from childbirth to three months postpartum. NICE recommends using the Two Question Depression Screen and the Generalized Anxiety Disorder scale from the booking visit through to one year postpartum. A positive response to depression or anxiety questions warrants a full assessment using either PHQ-9 or the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale. Bipolar disorder may present as a first depressive episode in pregnancy or the postnatal period. In the postpartum period women have a high risk of severe relapse. Postpartum psychosis has a sudden and dramatic presentation with delusions, mania, severe depression, or mixed episodes with wide fluctuations of symptoms and severe mood swings.


Journal article



Publication Date





19 - 3


Adult, Anxiety Disorders, Female, Humans, Mood Disorders, Pregnancy, Pregnancy Complications, Puerperal Disorders