Importance: Perinatal depression, which is the occurrence of a depressive disorder during pregnancy or following childbirth, affects as many as 1 in 7 women and is one of the most common complications of pregnancy and the postpartum period. It is well established that perinatal depression can result in adverse short- and long-term effects on both the woman and child.
Objective: To issue a new US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommendation on interventions to prevent perinatal depression.
Evidence review: The USPSTF reviewed the evidence on the benefits and harms of preventive interventions for perinatal depression in pregnant or postpartum women or their children. The USPSTF reviewed contextual information on the accuracy of tools used to identify women at increased risk of perinatal depression and the most effective timing for preventive interventions. Interventions reviewed included counseling, health system interventions, physical activity, education, supportive interventions, and other behavioral interventions, such as infant sleep training and expressive writing. Pharmacological approaches included the use of nortriptyline, sertraline, and omega-3 fatty acids.
Findings: The USPSTF found convincing evidence that counseling interventions, such as cognitive behavioral therapy and interpersonal therapy, are effective in preventing perinatal depression. Women with a history of depression, current depressive symptoms, or certain socioeconomic risk factors (eg, low income or young or single parenthood) would benefit from counseling interventions and could be considered at increased risk. The USPSTF found adequate evidence to bound the potential harms of counseling interventions as no greater than small, based on the nature of the intervention and the low likelihood of serious harms. The USPSTF found inadequate evidence to assess the benefits and harms of other noncounseling interventions. The USPSTF concludes with moderate certainty that providing or referring pregnant or postpartum women at increased risk to counseling interventions has a moderate net benefit in preventing perinatal depression.
Conclusions and recommendation: The USPSTF recommends that clinicians provide or refer pregnant and postpartum persons who are at increased risk of perinatal depression to counseling interventions. (B recommendation).