Recommendation on instrument-based screening for depression during pregnancy and the postpartum period | CTFPHC


  • The Canadian Task Force on Preventive Health Care recommends against screening all individuals for depression during pregnancy and the postpartum period (up to 1 year after childbirth), using questionnaires (conditional recommendation, very low–certainty evidence).
  • Screening involves using an instrument such as a questionnaire for all patients in a particular setting (e.g., a clinic) whether or not they have symptoms, and using a cut-off score as a threshold to determine who needs to be further evaluated.
  • The evidence identified by the task force was very uncertain as to whether screening confers benefit above usual clinical care.
  • This recommendation assumes that usual care during pregnancy and the postpartum period includes inquiry and attention to mental health and well-being.
Key messages for the public
  • Depression during pregnancy or the first year after childbirth is a serious health concern, and there are effective treatments.
  • It is very uncertain whether the routine use of a questionnaire for depression administered to all patients in a clinic or other setting improves outcomes.
  • As part of usual care, your health care provider should ask you about your well-being and may also ask you about depression symptoms.
  • Symptoms such as sad mood, difficulty enjoying activities that you usually like to do, feelings of worthlessness or guilt, unexpected fatigue or lack of energy, or unexpected changes in your sleep patterns are important to discuss with your health care provider.
  • If you receive a diagnosis of depression, your health care provider can discuss options for support and treatment.

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