The enigma of post-natal depression: an update

Linda Wylie, Caroline J Hollins Martin, Glenn Marland, Colin Martin, Jean Rankin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Citations (Scopus)


Accessible summary

Evidence from the literature relating to post-natal depression is reviewed.

The evidence is summarized with particular regard to causes, presentations, screening, prevention, treatment and management.

This review is important for practitioners who want to scan the evidence underlying Scottish Intercollegiate Guidelines Network and National Institute for Clinical Excellence guidelines, and for researchers who want to identify gaps and conflicts in the literature.


This paper aims to provide a critical analysis of key concepts associated with post-natal depression (PND) to facilitate healthcare professionals with improving standards of care. Post-natal depression is often inadequately understood by healthcare professionals. The objective was to clarify and present understandings of PND. Post-natal depression may result in referral to Community Mental Health Teams and although initial contact and management is usually through Primary Care, increasingly there is involvement of liaison mental health nurses. A literature review and synthesis of research papers on PND was conducted. Using the keywords post-natal depression, post-partum, puerperium, perinatal, therapy, trial, review, systematic, 135 articles were yielded and limited to 57, which were critically reviewed and categorized into key concepts and themes. Synthesis of literature in relation to PND has facilitated construction of an evidence-based contemporary picture of clinical manifestation, aetiology, methods of screening, preventing, treating and managing PND. The veracity of the evidence surrounding the aetiology and treatment of PND is variable. Interventions are often ineffective and a vacuum in the evidence base exists leaving a dynamic environment for researchers to identify more successful ways of predicting, detecting, treating and managing PND.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)48-58
JournalJournal of Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2011


  • aetiology
  • clinical features
  • management
  • post-natal depression


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