Overview: Postpartum depression is a crippling mood disorder, historically neglected in health care, leaving mothers to suffer in fear, confusion, and silence. Undiagnosed it can adversely affect the mother–infant relationship and lead to long-term emotional problems for the child. This article differentiates postpartum depression from other postpartum mood and anxiety disorders and addresses these aspects of postpartum depression: symptoms, prevalence, risk factors, interventions, and the effects on relationships and child development. Instruments available to screen for postpartum depression are also reviewed.
The author has described it as “a thief that steals motherhood”: postpartum depression can have long-ranging implications for mother and child. Distinguishing its symptoms from those of other disorders is the first step in treatment.
Cheryl Tatano Beck is a professor at the University of Connecticut School of Nursing, Storrs. Contact author: firstname.lastname@example.org. Dr. Beck received grants from and is an advisor to the Patrick and Catherine Weldon Donaghue Medical Research Foundation for developing and testing the Postpartum Depression Screening Scale (PDSS) mentioned in this article. She now receives royalties for the PDSS from Western Psychological Services, which holds the copyright. She has no other significant ties, financial or otherwise, to any company that might have an interest in the publication of this educational activity.