Clinical Tools for Postpartum Depression

If you are an OB/GYN, nurse, pediatrician, primary care physician, psychiatrist, therapist, social worker or midwife involved in the care of pregnant and postpartum women, I hope you’ll find the postpartum depression tools and information listed below helpful for your practice.

Specialist Training

There are several training courses that you can take in order to deepen your understanding of how to identify and treat perinatal mood and anxiety disorders. They include:

  • The Postpartum Stress Center‘s 10-hour Postgraduate PPD Training is a a crash course on diagnosis, screening, assessment, and treatment options. Theoretical foundations and therapeutic approaches will be explored with an emphasis on the PPSC’s strategies models of intervention. These events are led by Karen Kleiman, expert and author of many of the leading books on postpartum depression.
  • The Seleni Institute Clinical Training Program includes two trainings, a 1.5 day long perinatal mood and anxiety disorders (PMAD) treatment intensive, and a half-day training (immediately following the PMAD course) on treating perinatal grief and bereavement, including miscarriage, stillbirth, child loss. The intent of this program is to provide general mental health clinicians with the tools to effectively address reproductive and maternal mental health issues that may arise in their private practice. These trainings are held in New York City and the fee is $1,995. This program is approved for 16 Social Work continuing education contact hours.
  • Postpartum Support International offers a 2-day PSI Certificate of Completion Course designed for nurses, physicians, social workers, mental health providers, childbirth professionals, social support providers, or anyone interested in learning skills and knowledge for assessment and treatment of perinatal mood disorders. Continuing education credits are available. Upcoming trainings can be found here.
  • Maternal Mental Health Now in California offers online training here.
  • The Postpartum Action Institute offers a 1.5-day training, held a few times a year in Santa Barbara, CA. The registration fee is $497, with discounts for PSI and Marce Society members. For more information, click here.


Position Papers, Algorithms, Toolkits & Guidelines for Treatment


For obstetric providers: ACOG’s Depression and Postpartum Depression: Resource Overview is a comprehensive overview of key publications and resources, including current clinical guidance, for obstetrician-gynecologists and other women’s health care providers and patients.

For family practice providers: the AAFP TRIPPD Postpartum Depression Toolkit (free)

For pediatric providers: Colorado Pediatric Postpartum Depression Screening Toolkit (free) and a Pediatrics Clinical Report on Incorporating Recognition and Management of Perinatal and Postpartum Depression Into Pediatric Practice (free)

set of guidelines and algorithms on the use of antidepressants during pregnancy created in a partnership between ACOG and the APA.

For nurses:  AWHONN section on postpartum depression includes position paper: The Role of the Nurse in Postpartum Mood and Anxiety Disorders.

For physician assistants: Journal of American Academy of Physician Assistant’s guide to diagnosis and treatment approaches

For midwives: American College of Nurse Midwives’ NURSE Approach for PPD

From Karen Kleiman on assessing the potential for suicide in postpartum women: Postpartum Suicide


Screening Tools

Here’s a link to the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Screening Scale (EPDS) from the MGH Center for Women’s Mental Health site.  Click here for a link to a 2008 study published in Pediatrics on the effectiveness of the EPDS-3, a three question subset of the EPDS.  Also, here’s info on the Postpartum Depression Screening Scale (PDSS).



Other Resources

If you need information on medications and mother’s milk, check out Thomas Hale’s comprehensive ibreastfeeding site or visit Motherisk.

The Maternal Child Health Library’s Depression During and After Pregnancy Knowledge Path offers a variety of resources for professionals, including links to databases, research and other literature.

The Women’s Health Resources site of the National Library of Medicine can be found at  Here’s the women’s mental health section:


Professional Organizations

Postpartum Support International (PSI) is the world’s largest non-profit organization dedicated to helping women suffering from perinatal mood and anxiety disorders, including postpartum depression.  The organization offers support, reliable information, best practice training and volunteer coordinators in all US states as well as in 26 countries around the world.  PSI also has free “Chat with the Experts” conference calls every Monday and Wednesday.  You are welcome to call to get your questions about perinatal mood and anxiety disorders answered, or you can suggest patients or family members call in.

North American Society for Psychosocial Obstetrics & Gynecology (NASPOG) is a society of researchers, clinicians, educators and scientists involved in women’s mental health and healthcare. Formed in the 1960s as a collaboration among Obstetrician Gynecologists, Psychiatrists and Psychologists, the Society’s aim is to foster scholarly scientific and clinical study of the biopsychosocial aspects of obstetric and gynecologic medicine.

The Marce Society promotes, facilitates and communicates about research into all aspects of the mental health of women, their infants and partners around the time of childbirth.  The Society is multidisciplinary and encourages involvement from all disciplines including: psychiatrists, psychologists, pediatricians, obstetricians, midwives, early childhood nurses,  physiotherapists, occupational therapists, community psychiatric nurses, community nurses and health visitors.



Books for Professionals

I recommend the following books for professionals who treat postpartum depression:

Therapy and the Postpartum Woman by Karen Kleiman is a must-read for any therapist wishing to specialize in treating women with perinatal mood and anxiety disorders.

Perinatal & Postpartum Mood Disorders: Perspectives & Treatment Guide for the Health Care Practitioner by Susan Dowd Stone is great textbook for those in the psychiatric field as well as OB-GYNs, nurses and pediatricians.

Motherhood and Mental Health by Ian Brockington


If you’d like to suggest additional tools or if you’re looking for a specific type of information and would like my help in finding it, please email us at  We’re happy to help.

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