Diagnosing perinatal and postpartum depressions (PPD) is key to treating the ailment. However, PPD remains highly underdiagnosed in the United States. One study points to a lack of doctors and health care providers knowing about and using a universal screening tool. Even when clinicians know about good screening tools, they can be reluctant to use them for a fear they will be too time-consuming and expensive. In addition, health care providers might be unsure of how to proceed with treatment for women whose test scores show they have increased chances of developing PPD (including worries over medications for breastfeeding women).

A good tool to determine if a mother has PPD is the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale.




Click here to download Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale forms.

In addition, health care providers need to find workshops at both the introductory and advanced skills levels to better recognize the signs and symptoms of PPD. On the advanced level, providers should attend workshops covering:

  • Screening and assessment
  • Pharmacotherapy
  • Mother-infant assessment and intervention

Workshops can be attended in person, through a teleconference or through the Web.

PPD, if left undiagnosed and untreated, can result in:

  • Poor pregnancy outcomes, including: low birth weights, perinatal telencephalic leukoencephalopathy (PTL), Small-for-Gestational-Age (SGA) infants, Respiratory Distress Syndrome (RDS) and pregnancy-induced hypertension
  • Poor mother-infant attachment
  • Language delays
  • Behavioral difficulties
  • Low cognitive performance
  • Mental health disorders
  • Attention problems

In addition, mothers could show poor prenatal behaviors, poor parenting behaviors, symptoms lasting longer and an increase risk of relapse.

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