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Screening and Diagnosis of Mental Health Conditions During Pregnancy and Postpartum

PURPOSE: To review evidence on the current understanding of mental health conditions in pregnancy and postpartum, with a focus on mood and anxiety disorders, and to outline guidelines for screening and diagnosis that are consistent with best available scientific evidence. The conditions or symptoms reviewed include depression, anxiety and anxiety-related disorders, bipolar disorder, suicidality, and postpartum psychosis. For information on psychopharmacologic treatment and management, refer to American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) Clinical Practice Guideline Number5, “Treatment and Management of Mental Health Conditions During Pregnancy and Postpartum” (1).

TARGET POPULATION: Pregnant or postpartum individuals with mental health conditions. Onset of these conditions may have predated the perinatal period or may have occurred for the first time in pregnancy or the first year postpartum or may have been exacerbated in that time.

METHODS: This guideline was developed using an a priori protocol in conjunction with a writing team consisting of one specialist in obstetrics and gynecology and one maternal–fetal medicine subspecialist appointed by the ACOG Committee on Clinical Practice Guidelines–Obstetrics and two external subject matter experts. ACOG medical librarians completed a comprehensive literature search for primary literature within Cochrane Library, Cochrane Collaboration Registry of Controlled Trials, EMBASE, PubMed, and MEDLINE. Studies that moved forward to the full-text screening stage were assessed by two authors from the writing team based on standardized inclusion and exclusion criteria. Included studies underwent quality assessment, and a modified GRADE (Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development and Evaluation) evidence to-decision framework was applied to interpret and translate the evidence into recommendation statements.

RECOMMENDATIONS: This Clinical Practice Guideline includes recommendations on the screening and diagnosis of perinatal mental health conditions including depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, acute postpartum psychosis, and the symptom of suicidality. Recommendations are classified by strength and evidence quality. Ungraded Good Practice Points are included to provide guidance when a formal recommendation could not be made because of inadequate or nonexistent evidence.