Perinatal Depression and Transition Theory
Depression during pregnancy is quite common, affecting an estimated 14-23 % of pregnant women in the United States (1). While postpartum depression affects 10-16%, antenatal depression is equally widespread, and carries with it a significant level of risk for subsequent postpartum depression (2). Antenatal depression adversely affects both the mother and the infant, and has been associated with poor attendance for prenatal care, substance misuse, poor nutrition, low birth weight infants, and preterm birth. Consequences of postnatal depression include neglect of the child, family system breakdown, self harm, and suicide. This article discusses pregnant women as a vulnerable population, identifying health disparities, factors influencing vulnerability, and evidence related to this population’s strengths and potential for resilience. The focus of the article is limited to the issue of perinatal depression in pregnant women in the United States. Transition theory is presented as a proposed framework for the development of an intervention strategy consisting of antenatal screening for depression and antenatal education related to depression.

Course Publication Date: April 23, 2018

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Author:Ray Lengel RN, FNP, MS
Course No:PDTT042318
Contact Hours:2.00
Delivery Method:Online Self Study
Category:Community & Home Health
Leadership & Case Management
Medical & Surgical Issues
Peri-Natal Medicine
Psychiatric & Mental Health
Women's Health

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Learning Objectives
  • Differentiate between perinatal depression and postnatal depression.
  • Discuss risks related to maternal and infant mortality in the United States.
  • Summarize the issues related to health disparities among women and babies in the United States.
  • Identify factors related to increased vulnerability of pregnant women in the United States
  • Discuss examples illustrating women’s inherent strengths and resilience.
  • Explain Transition theory.
  • Plan a multidimensional approach to identification and interventions for perinatal depression.


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