Term of Award

Summer 2003

Degree Name

Master of Science in Nursing

Document Type and Release Option

Thesis (restricted to Georgia Southern)

Department

School of Nursing

Committee Chair

Carol Cornwell

Committee Member 1

ElDonna Hilde

Committee Member 2

Donna Hodnicki

Abstract

Postpartum depression (PPD) is a potentially devastating illness that strikes approximately 13 percent of all new mothers. Research has shown that PPD is undetected and unreported in 50 percent of cases and can have serious and often deadly repercussions for the children of affected mothers. Effects of PPD can be seen well into the adolescent period in some children of affected mothers, even when the duration of their mother's depression was limited.

This study examined the incidence of PPD, the differences in pre-partum and postpartum Beck Depression Inventory II (BDIII) scores, and relationship of previous PPD to current PPD in 13 women in southeast Georgia. Study participants were given the BDI II and a researcher-developed Depression History Questionnaire (DHQ) at a prepartum visit between 30 and 38 weeks gestation. A second BDI II and the Postpartum Depression Screening Scale (PDSS) were given at the six week postpartum visit. No history of depression was revealed on the DHQ and no depression was demonstrated on either the pre-partum BDI II or postpartum BDI II and PDSS tests in the women who completed the study. However, a significant difference was noted in the scores on pre-partum BDI II (p =.002, M= 5.69, SD = 1.7) questionnaires as opposed to postpartum BDI II scores (M= 3.38, SD = 1.7). Although the differences might reflect "normal" changes, these differences could also be indicative of more subtle symptoms specifically related to the pregnancy that could be problematic, and thus potential foci for clinical intervention. The development of more specific tools might provide for the inclusion or exclusion of symptoms that are very specific to the state of pregnancy and that are not being detected by the currently available, non-specific measurement tools.

Considering the sequelae associated with PPD, it is apparent that early diagnosis and treatment are of the utmost importance. Education about PPD, screening for risk factors, and screening for PPD are vital components of care that should be instituted in all practices that care for women of childbearing age and their families.

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