Nurses key to spotting postpartum depression in new moms

Nurses can be trained to detect new mothers in postpartum depression and may be crucial in spotting the condition early, researchers report.

About 15% of new moms suffer from postpartum depression and can cause persistent sadness, fatigue, feelings of hopelessness and worthlessness, and difficulty sleeping or eating. Some women struggle with the condition to care for their baby.

Hospitals have been urged to implement postpartum depression screening and referral programs, and a new quality improvement study from Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles concluded that nurse training and education is the key to successfully screening for postpartum depression.

“Training that helped nurses get comfortable with the topic of depression and develop a non-judgmental attitude and openness to questions and concerns is critical,” said Eynav Accortt, principal investigator, Cedars-Sinai’s Reproductive Psychology Program.

“Our research also revealed that framing the screening as part of the medical center’s commitment to family wellness, as opposed to just using the term ‘depression,’ was helpful. It allowed us to normalize the challenging transition to parenting these patients often experienced,” Accortt said in a hospital news release.

The findings came from a review of data on more than 19,500 women who gave birth at Cedars-Sinai.

Even though nurses are often on the front lines of screening programs for postpartum depression, nursing schools rarely require training in mental health screening or education.

“We recognized that we needed to do a better job identifying patients at risk before they went home from the hospital,” said senior study author Dr. Sarah Kilpatrick, Chair of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Cedars-Sinai.

“We learned that this is a complex process requiring dedicated collaboration between nurses, physicians and information technology personnel to make the system work,” Kilpatrick said in the release. “Our framework should be reproducible in other hospitals, thus helping even more families be recognized and better managed postpartum depression.”

The study was published recently in the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology – Maternal-Fetal MedicineGeneral Chat Chat Lounge

The study finds a third of new moms during early COVID had postpartum depression

More information:
For more on postpartum depression, see the US Office on Women’s Health.

Eynav Elgavish Accortt et al, Implementing an Inpatient Postpartum Depression Screening, Education, and Referral Program: A Quality Improvement Initiative, American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology MFM (2022). DOI: 10.1016 / j.ajogmf.2022.100581

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Citation: Nurses key to spotting postpartum depression in new moms (2022, May 13) Retrieved 14 May 2022 from

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