The impact of perinatal depression on the evolution of anxiety and obsessive-compulsive symptoms

Emily S. Miller*, Denada Hoxha, Katherine L. Wisner, Dana R. Gossett

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


We sought to examine the evolution of postpartum anxiety, obsessions and compulsions over time, and the influence of depression on their clinical course. This was a prospective cohort of obstetric patients enrolled at a tertiary care women’s hospital. Women were recruited immediately postpartum and followed for 6 months. Women were screened for depression, state-trait anxiety, and obsessive-compulsive symptoms and dichotomized by the presence of depression. Four hundred sixty-one women agreed to participate in the study and completed the 2 weeks postpartum assessment; 331 (72 %) women completed the assessment at 6 months postpartum. At 2 weeks postpartum, 28 (19.9 %) women with depression had anxiety symptoms, compared to 4 (1.3 %) women who screened negative for depression (p < 0.001). Similarly, 36 (25.7 %) women with depression endorsed obsessions and compulsions compared to 19 (8.4 %) women without depression (p < 0.001). A significant interaction effect was present with anxiety over time such that by 6 months postpartum, there were no differences in symptoms in women with and without depression (p = 0.860). Conversely, the differences in obsessions and compulsions between depressed and non-depressed women persisted (p = 0.017). Women with postpartum depression are more likely to experience comorbid state-trait anxiety and obsessive-compulsive symptoms in the immediate postpartum period. While state-trait anxiety symptoms tend to resolve with time, obsessive-compulsive symptoms persist. Understanding these temporal trends is critical to tailor appropriate monitoring and treatment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number476
Pages (from-to)457-461
Number of pages5
JournalArchives of Women's Mental Health
Issue number3
StatePublished - Oct 30 2015


  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • Perinatal depression
  • State-trait anxiety

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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