Strategies to Improve Identification of Postpartum Depression, Follow up and Continuity of Care among Women
Postpartum depression (PPD) is a serious mental health disorder, characterized by severe feelings of sadness that occurs in a significant number of women with symptoms generally appearing in the first 2 months to one-year postpartum. As with many mental health disorders PPD is multifactorial, including such influential factors as race, ethnicity, gender, age, social constructs and community. Women in lower socioeconomic strata experience depression in higher numbers than their counterparts in upper socioeconomic groups. Additionally, women with lower levels of education are more prone to develop PPD. It is critical to understand how healthcare providers can intervene to address PPD. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) (2016) reported postpartum depressive symptoms in 1 out of 10 women.
Although New Jersey led the nation as the first state to enact a law addressing postpartum depression in 2006, there is little empirical evidence that significant changes have occurred in relation to the diagnosis and treatment of PPD. The law provides funding for education, screening, and the program “Speak Up When You’re Down”. There needs to be an increased commitment to addressing this issue to improve the health of women. In addition to the mandated screening for PPD, advanced practice nurses (APNs) and other health care providers need to provide follow-up for those women identified as being at high risk in order to provide the appropriate support as dictated by the situation.