(HealthDay News) – About 14% of mothers are depressed postpartum, with a postpartum onset in most cases, and with the most common diagnosis being major depressive disorder with comorbid anxiety disorders, according to a study published online March 13 in JAMA Psychiatry.

Katherine L. Wisner, MD, from Northwestern University in Chicago, and colleagues telephone screened 10,000 women who had recently given birth for depression four to six weeks postpartum. Women who screened positive (by the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale) were invited to have a psychiatric evaluation at their home.

The researchers found that 1,396 women (14%) were positive for depression. Of these, 59.2% underwent a psychiatric evaluation at home, and 10.5% had a telephone diagnostic interview. Depression was more common in women who were younger, African-American, publicly insured, single, and less well educated. The onset of depression was postpartum in 40.1% of cases, during pregnancy in 33.4% of cases, and before pregnancy in 26.5% of cases. Self-harm ideation was found in 19.3% of depressed women. The authors found that 68.5%  of these women had a primary diagnosis of unipolar depressive disorders, almost two-thirds had co-morbid anxiety disorders, and 22.6% had bipolar disorders.

“The most common diagnosis in screen-positive women was major depressive disorder with comorbid generalized anxiety disorder,” the authors write.

One author was an adviser to Eli Lilly and received donated material from Novartis for a clinical trial; another author reported compensation from several pharmaceutical and device companies.

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