The purpose is to investigate the natural course and long-term prognosis of postpartum depression (PPD). In this retrospective longitudinal cohort study, mothers diagnosed as either suffering from PPD or without PPD were reassessed 5–8 years thereafter by a semi-structured interview and their charts were reviewed for past psychiatric illness prior to the index (initial) episode and for new-onset episodes in the following years. Present psychiatric state was also evaluated by interview and questionnaires. Sixty-five mothers with and 35 without past PPD underwent the full assessment. A total of 66.2% of mothers with past PPD had any axis I psychopathology before their index PPD episode, compared with only 8.6% in the non-PPD group (p < 0.001, φ =.55). Furthermore, 37.2% of the females who had a history of PPD and experienced subsequent childbirths during the follow-up years, developed at least one new episode of PPD. Throughout the 5 years subsequent to the index PPD episode, 42.5% of the PPD group compared with only 3.7% for the non-PPD group developed a new episode of depression (p < 0.001). Lastly, reported psychopathology was higher and functional level was significantly worse in the PPD group at the time of reassessment. Females who develop an episode of PPD show a high degree of subsequent psychopathology and unfavorable prognosis. Clinicians treating females for PPD should consider a longer treatment continuation phase in an effort to prevent further psychopathology and a closer follow-up program.
- Natural course
- Postpartum depression