Screening for perinatal depression

Best Pract Res Clin Obstet Gynaecol. 2014 Jan;28(1):13-23. doi: 10.1016/j.bpobgyn.2013.08.014. Epub 2013 Sep 2.


Perinatal depression is prevalent, under-diagnosed and can have serious long-term effects on the wellbeing of women, their partners and infants. In the absence of active identification strategies, most women with perinatal depression will neither seek nor receive help. To enable early detection and timely intervention, universal screening is coming to be seen as best practice in many settings. Although the strength of recommendations and the preferred methods of identification vary in different countries (e.g. the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale, brief case-finding questions), appropriate training for health professionals in wider psychosocial assessment is essential to maximise usefulness while minimising potential harms. Clear pathways of systematic follow up of all positive screening results with a diagnostic procedure and access to effective treatment are centrally important both for the clinical effectiveness of screening and for health system costs. It is also necessary to further build on the emerging evidence base for the clinical effectiveness of screening.

Keywords: Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale; antenatal; depression; effectiveness; perinatal; postnatal; screening.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Depression / diagnosis*
  • Depression, Postpartum / diagnosis*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Mass Screening*
  • Mothers / psychology
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care
  • Peripartum Period / psychology*
  • Pregnancy
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales*
  • Psychological Tests