Symptoms of the anxiety disorders in a perinatal psychiatric sample: a chart review

Casey A Schofield, Cynthia L Battle, Margaret Howard, Samia Ortiz-Hernandez
Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease 2014, 202 (2): 154-60
Symptoms of anxiety are a central feature of perinatal mental health, yet the anxiety disorders have received considerably less attention than depression in both perinatal research and practice. The present investigation involved a retrospective review of the clinical records of 334 patients seen at a psychiatric day hospital program serving pregnant and postpartum women. We examined the frequency with which the patients in this setting reported symptoms of anxiety, clinical correlates of elevated anxiety, and patterns of diagnosis in the clinical record. The results suggest that anxiety symptoms are very common in this population and that the presence of anxiety is associated with a more severe clinical profile, including higher rates of suicidality and increased use of psychotropic medications during pregnancy and postpartum. Although anxiety symptom levels were markedly elevated in this sample, anxiety disorders were diagnosed at relatively low rates. Implications for clinical practice, including discharge and treatment planning, are discussed.

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