Perinatal depression care pathway for obstetric settings

Int Rev Psychiatry. 2019 May;31(3):210-228. doi: 10.1080/09540261.2018.1534725. Epub 2019 Jan 31.


Perinatal depression is common and can have deleterious effects on mothers, infants, children, partners, and families. Despite this, few women who screen positive for depression receive psychiatric treatment. A comprehensive perinatal depression care pathway includes: (1) screening, (2) assessment, (3) triage and referral, (4) treatment access, (5) treatment initiation, (6) symptom monitoring, and (7) adaptation of treatment based on measurement until symptoms remit. This depression care pathway provides a scaffold on which to frame the challenges encountered when, and the opportunities that exist for, addressing depression in obstetric settings. Comprehensive interventions that address each step on the care pathway are needed to support obstetric practices in providing high-quality, evidence-based, effective treatment including pro-active follow-up for depression management. Despite recent attention being brought to, and significant progress in the field of maternal mental health, gaps in care persist. Ultimately, depression care needs to be fully integrated into obstetric care. Additionally, more targeted maternal mental health support and structure are needed for integration to occur and ultimately be optimized. Specific areas requiring more attention include consistency of screening, evaluation of patients with a positive depression screen for bipolar disorder, anxiety or substance use disorders, and monitoring of symptom improvement.

Keywords: Depression; access; obstetric; perinatal; treatment.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Delivery of Health Care*
  • Depression* / diagnosis
  • Depression* / therapy
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Mass Screening*
  • Maternal Health
  • Obstetrics*
  • Perinatal Care*
  • Pregnancy
  • Referral and Consultation