Cochrane for Clinicians

Putting Evidence into Practice

Psychosocial and Psychological Interventions for Preventing Postpartum Depression

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Am Fam Physician. 2014 Jun 1;89(11):871.

Clinical Question

Can psychosocial or psychological interventions prevent postpartum depression?

Evidence-Based Answer

A range of prevention strategies can reduce the risk of postpartum depression, but more study is needed to determine which interventions are most effective. (Strength of Recommendation: B, based on inconsistent or limited-quality patient-oriented evidence.)

Practice Pointers

Among women of childbearing age in the United States, depression is the leading cause of nonobstetric hospitalization.1 Postpartum depression is associated with morbidity for mother and infant, because affected women are less able to effectively parent and bond with their infants.2 The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th ed., defines depression with peripartum onset as that which occurs during pregnancy or within four weeks of delivery.3 However, depressive symptoms most often start within the first 12 weeks postpartum, and many studies define postpartum depression

The practice recommendations in this activity are available at


Dennis CL, Dowswell T. Psychosocial and psychological interventions for preventing postpartum depression. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2013;(2):CD001134.


1. O'Hara MW. Postpartum depression: what we know. J Clin Psychol. 2009;65(12):1258–1269.

2. Field T. Postpartum depression effects on early interactions, parenting, and safety practices: a review. Infant Behav Dev. 2010;33(1):1–6.

3. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. 5th ed. Washington, DC.: American Psychiatric Association; 2013.

4. Gaynes BN, Gavin N, Meltzer-Brody S, et al. Perinatal depression: prevalence, screening accuracy, and screening outcomes. Evidence Report/Technology Assessment No. 119. AHRQ Publication No. 05-E006-2. Rockville, Md.: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality; 2005. Accessed September 2013.

5. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Committee on Obstetric Practice. Screening for depression during and after pregnancy. Committee opinion no. 453. Obstet Gynecol. 2010;115(2 pt 1):394–395.

These are summaries of reviews from the Cochrane Library.

The series coordinator for AFP is Corey D. Fogleman, MD, Lancaster General Hospital Family Medicine Residency, Lancaster, Pa.

A collection of Cochrane for Clinicians published in AFP is available at

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