Perinatal mental illness: Definition, description and aetiology

Michael W. O'Hara*, Katherine Leah Wisner

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

314 Scopus citations

Abstract

Perinatal mental illness is a significant complication of pregnancy and the postpartum period. These disorders include depression, anxiety disorders, and postpartum psychosis, which usually manifests as bipolar disorder. Perinatal depression and anxiety are common, with prevalence rates for major and minor depression up to almost 20% during pregnancy and the first 3 months postpartum. Postpartum blues are a common but lesser manifestation of postpartum affective disturbance. Perinatal psychiatric disorders impair a woman's function and are associated with suboptimal development of her offspring. Risk factors include past history of depression, anxiety, or bipolar disorder, as well psychosocial factors, such as ongoing conflict with the partner, poor social support, and ongoing stressful life events. Early symptoms of depression, anxiety, and mania can be detected through screening in pregnancy and the postpartum period. Early detection and effective management of perinatal psychiatric disorders are critical for the welfare of women and their offspring.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3-12
Number of pages10
JournalBest Practice and Research: Clinical Obstetrics and Gynaecology
Volume28
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2014

Keywords

  • Perinatal mental illness
  • Postpartum anxiety disorders
  • Postpartum depression
  • Postpartum psychosis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Obstetrics and Gynecology

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