Objective: To describe the incidence, continuation, and resolution of symptoms during the postpartum year in urban women experiencing high depressive symptom levels at one or more well child care visits.
Methods: As part of a prior study of postpartum depressive symptoms, demographic data and the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS) were systematically collected from pediatric records of a clinic that routinely screens mothers with the EPDS at each first-year well child care visit. To explore the course of depressive symptoms throughout the postpartum year in this pilot study, we included only data from the records that had at least one EPDS > or = 10 (N = 100), a score indicating a high likelihood for clinically significant depressive symptoms.
Results: Among 49 women who completed the EPDS at least once before 3 months and between 3 and 11 months postpartum, 33% had high symptom levels throughout the year, 41% improved after the first 3 months, and 26% developed high symptom levels after the first 3 months.
Conclusions: Postpartum depressive symptoms persist in many women throughout the postpartum year. Routine screening throughout the year might better identify both a subgroup of women who develop new symptoms during the year, as well as the women whose symptoms persist.