Postnatal Depression

Summary information

Publishing date: 
Reference number: 
WH29, WH30
Available in print: 
No - PDF only
Further information: 

Note: This document was assessed for currency in 2006 and was reissued until 31 December 2008.

The information paper: Postnatal Depression: A systematic review of published scientific literature to 1999 is the first step in documenting current multidisciplinary research results in the area of prevalence, clinical presentation, course, assessment, treatment and prevention of postnatal depression.

Postnatal depression is the most prevalent mood disorder associated with childbirth and affects up to 15% of childbearing women. This can have long-tem consequences for women, their partners, the infant and other children. It is therefore important to discriminate between difficult marital and parenting adjustments in the early postnatal period and the symptoms of clinical depression.

Research indicates that postnatal depression is the result of a combination of physical, mental and social factors, which need to be taken into account when considering treatmen options. As general practitioners (GPs) are often the first medical contact for a woman with postnatal depression it is important for GPs to be informed about latest developments.

Other mood and anxiety disorders can occur around childbearing and they need to be differentiated from postnatal depression. These include depression during pregnancy, antenatal and postnatal anxiety disorders, maternity blues and puerperal psychosis.

To support the information paper, NHMRC has also prepared a Consumer Guide Postnatal Depression: Not Just the Baby Blues to provide parents with advice and suppor on postnatal depression, describes symptoms and details how to find professional help and contact support groups Australia wide.

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