• Megan Logan

October is Maternal Mental Health Screening Awareness Month!

Of note: the following is taken from 20/20 mom's website. Please go to https://www.2020mom.org/screening-overview?eType=EmailBlastContent&eId=cb10c849-fd7d-4ac9-aa73-c7ae8208478b for more information.

What Disorders Should be Screened For?

Overview There are a number of research-validated tools to detect maternal mental health disorders, including but not limited to depression.

As obstetric and other providers are just beginning to routinely screen, commonly they use tools to detect depression, and may not use other important recommended tools. When may multiple screening tools be necessary?

Here are examples of why and when multiple tools are warranted:

  • Anxiety is more common than depression and can be a precursor to depression; screening for both anxiety and depression is recommended.

  • Also, because “intrusive thoughts” are unwanted and often disturbing and repetitive can be extremely distressing for a patient, experts are recommending an OCD screener be administered to any patient who screens positive for anxiety or raises concerns about recurring unwanted thoughts. As prescribing an antidepressant to a person with an unknown bipolar disorder can trigger a manic episode which could lead to psychosis, every patient who screens positive for depression should be screened for bipolar disorder before an antidepressant is prescribed. If a patient is suspected of having postpartum psychosis screening for OCD should occur before a treatment plan is developed or a woman is sent to the Emergency Room (ER) because psychosis can be confused with maternal OCD/intrusive thoughts.

  • Risk of suicide should be screened for if a person verbally discloses she has had thoughts of suicide or ending her life or answers yes to question 9 on the PHQ-9 or question 10 on the EPDS.

  • In populations whose cultures are less likely to acknowledge mental health challenges, screening for sleep disturbances, a symptom of nearly all mental health disorders, can be another way to identify a potential mental health issue.

At a Minimum All patients should be screened for generalized anxiety and depression, and the logic described in the “When are Multiple Tools Necessary” section above should be applied. Additionally, if a patient identifies with or self-describes other symptoms, the screening provider should use judgment in determining which additional tools below should be used.


Talk to your doctor or mental health practitioner today if you feel you may be struggling with postpartum depression or other perinatal mood disorders.


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