Support and Training to Enhance Primary Care for Postpartum Depression

Importance of PPD Screening and Assessment

When PPD goes undetected and untreated, there are many potential negative consequences for the woman and her baby. Some of these consequences may be severe and irreversible (click here for information on the consequences of untreated PPD). 7 11 27 31 54

The best approach for avoiding these consequences is to accurately detect and diagnose women with PPD and help them gain access to appropriate treatment as quickly and efficiently as possible. To do this, it is crucial to screen and assess women routinely during the first postpartum year. 120 You should never assume that another health care provider will screen for PPD.

Screening vs. Assessment: What's the Difference?

"Screening" refers to strategies for identifying women who are experiencing symptoms of PPD and includes the use of clinical interview questions and/or standardized screening tools. "Assessment" is a more in-depth method used to verify PPD among women who screen positive for symptoms; assessment involves identifying specific symptoms, making a diagnosis, and choosing an appropriate treatment approach.

Even the best-trained providers may not be able to tell if a woman is experiencing symptoms of PPD simply by the way she looks or presents in a clinical visit. For this reason, it is critical to routinely screen all postpartum women for PPD. Consider this screening as if you were measuring any other health indicator, such as blood pressure, temperature, or weight.