Postnatal depression
Intended for healthcare professionals
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Postnatal depression

Chris Bewley Senior lecturer in midwifery, School of Health, Biological and Environmental Sciences, Middlesex University

Postnatal depression encompasses childbirth mood disorders from the blues to serious psychiatric illness (DoH 1998b). Chris Bewley explains the variety of biological, psychological, cultural and sociological factors involved and how health professionals can be involved in preventing such disorders from becoming long-term depressive illness.

Aims and intended learning outcomes

The aim of this article is to examine the available research into mood disorders around the time of birth, and to consider how nurses, midwives and health visitors may help in the prevention, detection and treatment of postnatal depression.

After reading this article, you should be able to:

Describe the theoretical differences between baby blues, puerperal psychosis and postnatal depression.

Outline the factors which are thought to contribute to postnatal depression.

Realise the impact of postnatal depression on the woman and her family.

Discuss the role of nurses, midwives and health visitors in the presentation and treatment of postnatal depression.

Identify sources of formal and informal support for affected women.

Mental Health Practice. 3, 7, 30-34. doi: 10.7748/mhp2000.

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