Pietro Grussu, Rosa Maria Quatraro

Postnatal depression. Definition, identification, and treatment

  • Abstract

Informations and abstract

Keywords: Postpartum depression, puerperal depression, perinatal mental health, perinatal psychiatry, motherhood

The scientific literature on maternal depression after the birth of the child includes numerous studies, referring to different aspects, when defining, identifying and treating this serious condition. This qualitative review aims to analyse these aspects through a study of the results reported in reviews published in the period between 1990 and 2006, through the PsycINFO and PubMed data banks. The studies found through the keywords "postpartum depression review", "postnatal depression review" and "puerperal depression review" was analysed. We found a total of 350 articles, 68 met our inclusion criteria. These studies revealed that there are clear differences both in the way in which the terminology concerning depression after delivery is being used and the way in which the time period covered by the pathology is defined. A variety of psychometric self-report questionnaires are being used to identify both women at risk and those already suffering from depression. Furthermore, the results obtained regarding treatments, both biological and non-biological, have been inconclusive as to which type of intervention is most effective. Lastly, interventions by local health authorities that use postnatal home visits by specialised health-operators seem to alleviate depressive symptoms the most and have higher degrees of maternal satisfaction. This strongly suggests that further research should be carried out in this area.

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