Although the prevalence of perinatal depression (depression occurring during pregnancy and postpartum) is 10%, little is known about psychiatric comorbidity in these women. We examined the prevalence of comorbid eating disorders (ED) and trauma history in women with perinatal depression.
A research questionnaire was administered to 158 consecutive patients seen in a perinatal psychiatry clinic during pregnancy (n=99) or postpartum (n=59). Measures included Structured Clinical Interview for DSM (SCID) IV-based questions for lifetime eating psychopathology and assessments of comorbid psychiatric illness including the State/Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI), Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-9), Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS), and Trauma Inventory.
In this cohort, 37.1% reported a putative lifetime ED history; 10.1% reported anorexia nervosa (AN), 10.1% reported bulimia nervosa (BN), 10.1% reported ED not otherwise specified-purging subtype (EDNOS-P), and 7.0% reported binge eating disorder (BED). Women with BN reported more severe depression (EPDS score, 19.1, standard deviation [SD 4.3], p=0.02; PHQ-severity 14.5, SD 7.4, p=0.02) than the referent group of women with perinatal depression and no ED history (EPDS 13.3, SD=6.1; PHQ 9.0, SD=6.2). Women with AN were more likely to report sexual trauma history than the referent group (62.5% vs. 29.3%, p<0.05), and those with BN were more likely report physical (50.0%, p<0.05) and sexual (66.7%, p<0.05) trauma histories.
ED histories were present in over one third of admissions to a perinatal psychiatry clinic. Women with BN reported more severe depression and histories of physical and sexual trauma. Screening for histories of eating psychopathology is important in women with perinatal depression.