Screening for depression and help-seeking in postpartum women during well-baby pediatric visits: an integrated review

J Pediatr Health Care. 2012 Mar;26(2):109-17. doi: 10.1016/j.pedhc.2010.06.012. Epub 2010 Aug 11.


Purpose: The purposes of this integrated review are to examine the literature on screening for depression and help-seeking behaviors by postpartum women during pediatric well-baby visits; to identify gaps in the literature relating to depression and help-seeking behaviors; and to discuss implications for practice and future research.

Method: An extensive search of primary source documents was conducted in Academic Search Premier, CINAHL, MEDLINE, Mental Measurements Yearbook, PsycINFO, PsycARTICLES, and Women's Studies International using the key words postpartum, postpartum depression (PPD), help seeking, and pediatric setting or pediatrician. Thirty-five articles relevant to help seeking, PPD, and screening in the pediatric setting were included in this review. Research studies included both quantitative and qualitative articles.

Results: PPD affects 10% to 15% of all women after birth. Postpartum women generally do not seek help for depression. Untreated PPD has significant adverse affects on parenting, maternal bonding, and the infant's emotional and behavioral development. Interaction with the woman's obstetric provider ends shortly after the baby's birth. However, interactions with the pediatric office are initiated and continue throughout the infant's first two years of life.

Discussion: Early recognition of PPD and appropriate treatment are imperative for positive maternal-infant outcomes. A majority of women do not seek help for depression from any source. Because mothers have routine interactions with pediatric office staff during the first few years after giving birth, pediatric nurse practitioners and pediatricians have the perfect opportunity to screen and educate women regarding symptoms, treatment, and available resources for PPD.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Depression, Postpartum / diagnosis*
  • Depression, Postpartum / epidemiology
  • Depression, Postpartum / psychology
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Mass Screening*
  • Maternal Health Services / organization & administration*
  • Parenting / psychology
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care / psychology
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care / statistics & numerical data*
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Young Adult