History of Postpartum Depression in a Clinic-Based Sample of Women With Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder

Objective: Overlapping comorbidities between premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) and postpartum depression (PPD) suggest that these disorders represent a continuum of vulnerability with shared pathophysiology. We report the past histories of PPD (and other Axis I psychiatric illnesses) in a clinic-based sample of women meeting criteria for PMDD.

Methods: 215 women, ages 19 to 51 years, who attended the National Institute of Mental Health Mood Disorders Clinic between 1988 and 2013 seeking treatment for PMDD and in whom we confirmed the diagnosis of PMDD (DSM-IV), were identified. All were administered the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-III-R or -IV. The frequency of PPD (major or minor) was established in the subgroup of women (n = 137) who had delivered at least 1 child.

Results: Ninety-three women (43.3%) had a past history of a mood disorder (ie, either major [n = 67; 31.2%] or minor [n = 10; 4.7%] depression or PPD [n = 16; 7.4%; 11.7% of parous women]). Nine of the 16 women with PMDD and a past PPD had either a past major depressive episode (MDE) or subsyndromal anxiety disorder. Thirty-three women (15.3%) had a past history of an Axis I anxiety disorder. A total of 40 women (18.6%) met criteria for past alcohol or drug abuse, 3 (1.4%) met criteria for bulimia nervosa, and 2 (0.9%) met criteria for anorexia nervosa.

Conclusions: Our data demonstrate that PMDD and PPD do not frequently co-occur. These data do not suggest that PMDD and PPD share similar pathophysiology beyond being ovarian-steroid–triggered mood disorders. The high comorbidity of past MDE could contribute to the increased risk both for future MDE and for PPD in some women with PMDD.

J Clin Psychiatry 2016;77(4):e415–e420

https://doi.org/10.4088/JCP.15m09779