The enigma of post-natal depression: an update

J Psychiatr Ment Health Nurs. 2011 Feb;18(1):48-58. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2850.2010.01626.x. Epub 2010 Sep 27.


This paper aims to provide a critical analysis of key concepts associated with post-natal depression (PND) to facilitate healthcare professionals with improving standards of care. Post-natal depression is often inadequately understood by healthcare professionals. The objective was to clarify and present understandings of PND. Post-natal depression may result in referral to Community Mental Health Teams and although initial contact and management is usually through Primary Care, increasingly there is involvement of liaison mental health nurses. A literature review and synthesis of research papers on PND was conducted. Using the keywords post-natal depression, post-partum, puerperium, perinatal, therapy, trial, review, systematic, 135 articles were yielded and limited to 57, which were critically reviewed and categorized into key concepts and themes. Synthesis of literature in relation to PND has facilitated construction of an evidence-based contemporary picture of clinical manifestation, aetiology, methods of screening, preventing, treating and managing PND. The veracity of the evidence surrounding the aetiology and treatment of PND is variable. Interventions are often ineffective and a vacuum in the evidence base exists leaving a dynamic environment for researchers to identify more successful ways of predicting, detecting, treating and managing PND.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antidepressive Agents / therapeutic use
  • Depression, Postpartum / diagnosis
  • Depression, Postpartum / nursing
  • Depression, Postpartum / prevention & control
  • Depression, Postpartum / psychology*
  • Depression, Postpartum / therapy
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Prognosis
  • Psychotherapy


  • Antidepressive Agents