Mental Health MH09, 2018 – 2021

Perinatal Depression: Screen and Management of Depression within Primary Care system


Worldwide, 322 million people suffer from depression, an affective mood disorder that will become the second leading cause of disease by 2020. A third of this burden resides in China. Women are at higher risk of depression than men and their vulnerability to depression is intensified during pregnancy (antenatal depression) and transition to motherhood (postnatal depression). In low- and middle-income countries the prevalence of antenatal depression and postpartum depression is 19% to 25% and 20%, respectively. These rates are higher than the antenatal (7% to 15%) and postnatal (10%) depression rates reported for high-income countries but are comparable to high-risk populations in high-income countries.

In China, antenatal depression rates have ranged from 6% to 28%[8-10] while postnatal depression rates have ranged from 10% to 28% in the first year postpartum. Despite the high rates of antenatal and postnatal depression, referred to as perinatal depression, women’s mental health needs are unmet given lack of investment in mental health, unequal distribution of mental health services, and limited human resources (i.e., trained or specialized healthcare provider) to deal with mental health issues. Perinatal depression is a public health issue given its impact on maternal health during pregnancy (e.g., pregnancy-related complications such as gestational hypertension), pregnancy outcomes (e.g., preterm birth), breastfeeding initiation rates and infant mortality and morbidity (e.g., emotional disorders, disruptive behaviors in childhood, and academic performance). Antenatal depression influences health care utilization, specifically increases in non-scheduled antenatal care and emergency care because of pregnancy-related emergencies and decrease preventative services for infant/child (e.g., well-child visits, vaccination clinics).

Funding organisations

  • Mental Health MH09
  • China
  • 2018 – 2021