Objective: To provide a profile of women suffering from major postpartum depression as assessed by the Postpartum Depression Screening Scale (PDSS).
Design: A secondary analysis conducted on a portion of the data collected from an earlier psychometric testing of the PDSS.
Setting: Private practice in the San Francisco Bay Area of a marriage and family therapist specializing in perinatal mood disorders.
Participants: One hundred thirty-three women who were diagnosed with major postpartum depression.
Intervention: Each mother completed the PDSS followed by a Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (4th ed.) diagnostic interview.
Main outcome measure: Seven dimensions of postpartum depression: sleeping/eating disturbances, anxiety/insecurity, emotional lability, mental confusion, loss of self, guilt/shame, and suicidal thoughts as measured by the PDSS.
Results: Scores on all seven dimensions of the PDSS were elevated. The three top dimensions were emotional lability, mental confusion, and anxiety/insecurity. The mean total PDSS score of 120 was well beyond the recommended cutoff score of 80 for a positive screen for major postpartum depression.
Conclusion: Clinicians who come in contact with new mothers need to be alert to the range of possible symptoms that postpartum depressed mothers may experience so that these women are not left to suffer in silence.