The Perinatal Depression Treatment Cascade: Baby Steps Toward Improving Outcomes

J Clin Psychiatry. 2016 Sep;77(9):1189-1200. doi: 10.4088/JCP.15r10174.


Objective: Perinatal depression is a common and costly health concern with serious implications for the mother and child. We sought to quantify the "Perinatal Depression Treatment Cascade"-the cumulative shortfalls in clinical recognition, initiation of treatment, adequacy of treatment, and treatment response for women with antenatal (AND) and postpartum depression (PPD).

Data sources: A systematic search was conducted to identify articles about diagnostic rates, treatment rates, adequate treatment rates, and remission rates for AND and PPD. We searched PubMed and EMBASE through March 2015.

Study selection: Articles were included if they were in English and examined rates of detection, treatment, adequate treatment, or remission for AND or PPD.

Data extraction and analysis: Mean rates of diagnosis, treatment, adequate treatment, and remission were calculated and weighted based on the number of subjects in each study. Search results were dually reviewed for confirmation of study eligibility and data abstraction.

Results: Decrements occur at each branch of the cascade. Data suggest that 49.9% of women with AND and 30.8% of women with PPD are identified in clinical settings; 13.6% of women with AND and 15.8% of women with PPD receive treatment; 8.6% of women with AND and 6.3% of women with PPD receive adequate treatment; and 4.8% of women with AND and 3.2% of women with PPD achieve remission.

Conclusions: Application of the treatment cascade model suggests multiple opportunities for improving perinatal depression management, informing optimal allocation of resources, and providing adequate treatment to this underrecognized and undertreated population..

Publication types

  • Review
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Depression, Postpartum / therapy*
  • Depressive Disorder / therapy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications / therapy*