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A LIGHT IN THE FOG: CARING FOR WOMEN WITH POSTPARTUM DEPRESSION

Authors

  • Holly Powell Kennedy CNM, PhD,

    Corresponding author
      Holly Powell Kennedy, CNM, PhD, Department of Family Health Care Nursing, University of California, San Francisco, 2 Koret Way, Box 0606, N411Y, San Francisco, CA 94143-0606.
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    • Holly Powell Kennedy is the codirector of the Nurse-Midwifery Program at the University of California, San Francisco. She received her master's degree as a family nurse practitioner from the Medical College of Georgia, her nurse-midwifery certificate from the Frontier School of Midwifery and Family Nursing, and her doctorate from the University of Rhode Island.

  • Cheryl Tatano Beck CNM, DNSc,

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    • Cheryl Tatano Beck is a professor of nursing at the University of Connecticut. She received her master's degree in maternal newborn nursing and a certificate in nurse midwifery from Yale University. She received her Doctor of Nursing Science degree from Boston University.

  • Jeanne Watson Driscoll MS, APRN, BC

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    • Jeanne Watson Driscoll is a certified adult psychiatric-mental health clinical nurse specialist in private practice at the Hestia Institute Center for Women and Families in Wellesley, MA. She received her bachelor of science in nursing from the University of Delaware and her masters in science from Boston College. She is currently a doctoral student at the University of Connecticut.


Holly Powell Kennedy, CNM, PhD, Department of Family Health Care Nursing, University of California, San Francisco, 2 Koret Way, Box 0606, N411Y, San Francisco, CA 94143-0606.

ABSTRACT

It is estimated that at least 1 in 10 women will experience postpartum depression, yet systematic screening for it in clinical practice is too often neglected. The foggy unreality of this affective disorder leads women to believe they are losing their minds, and their efforts to find help can be elusive. Women with postpartum depression who go undetected and untreated are at risk for immediate harm and potential lifelong sequelae for themselves and their families, and especially for their children. This article provides 1) an understanding of the woman's experience of postpartum depression, 2) a review of two instruments, developed through a focused program of research to screen for the disorder, 3) triage in clinical practice, and 4) an overview of the three dimensions of treatment: psychopharmacology, psychotherapy, and psychosocial care. Practical guidance and client information are provided to assist midwives and primary care providers to incorporate systematic screening into clinical practice, to identify effective interdisciplinary treatment teams, and to muster family and community resources to help with this commonly hidden childbearing crisis.

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