Maternal Mental Health and Peripartum Depression

  • Gislene Valadares
  • Austen Venancio Drummond
  • Carolina Cassiano Rangel
  • Eduardo Santos
  • Gisele Apter


Maternal mental health (MMH) and peripartum depression (PPD) are considered as a major public health concern. PPD and peripartum mental illness (PMI) has been recognized since the fifth century BCE by Hippocrates. Peripartum, instead of perinatal, is the term internationally standardized today. Peripartum means “relating to the time immediately before and after birth”. It is a critical period in a woman’s life. A wider definition stretches the peripartum from preconception and pregnancy up to 1 year after delivery. During this period women experience several and significant normal or pathological physiological, hormonal, emotional and social changes. Peripartum vulnerability to mental disorders is now a well-known fact. It is hypothesized that this is due to both biological (hormonal), psychological and environmental (social) aspects. Teasing out each mechanism, knowing that they most certainly interact to buffer or potentiate each other is complex. We are currently unable to understand the exact processes involved and can only try to describe evidence-based heightened/lowered risk/protection factors and current state-of-the-art care.

Worldwide, it is estimated that the rate of mental disorders, primarily depression, is approximately 10% for women during pregnancy and 13% during the postpartum. In low- and middle-income countries (LMIC), prevalence is even higher, ranging between 19% and 25%, associated to anxiety and lack of energy.

Early development and children’s health and mental health are at heightened risk of negative outcome in part due to lack of timely responses to infant needs and lack of adequate bonding. In the most severe cases, women can commit suicide and/or infanticide.

In order to provide evidence-based knowledge and scaffolding for prevention, early identification and efficacious management of PPD, the present chapter will describe maternal PPD. A secondary objective will be to stimulate creativity in different settings in favour of integrative, tailored, gender-sensitive, cost-effective programmes in order to promote biopsychosocial care for women and mothers, children and their families. Disseminating evidence to uphold better mental health for future generations is essential.



Serotonin transporter


Antenatal anxiety and depression




Before Christ


Brain-derived neurotrophic factor


Cartilage oligomeric matrix protein


Catechol-O-methyl transferase


Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition


Epstein–Barr virus


Electroconvulsive therapy


Extremely low birth weight


Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale


Oestrogen receptor alpha gene


Functional magnetic resonance imaging


Gamma aminobutyric acid A receptors


High-income countries


Hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis


Interleukin-1 receptor antagonist




Intimate partner


Interpersonal therapy


Intimate partner violence


Intrauterine life


Kangaroo method


Low birth weigh


Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender


Monoamine oxidase


Monoamine oxidase A


Medium- and low-income countries


Magnetic resonance spectroscopy




Neonatal intensive care unit


Positron emission tomography


Premenstrual dysphoric disorder


Peripartum mental illness


Postnatal adaptation syndrome


Prenatal depression


Peripartum depression


Paternal perinatal depression


Postpartum depression


Postpartum depressive symptoms


Preterm newborns


Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors


T helper cells type 1 or 2


Transcranial magnetic stimulation


Tryptophan hydroxylase-2


World Health Organization


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gislene Valadares
    • 1
  • Austen Venancio Drummond
    • 2
  • Carolina Cassiano Rangel
    • 3
  • Eduardo Santos
    • 4
  • Gisele Apter
    • 5
    • 6
  1. 1.Women’s Mental Health Clinic, Incestuous Families Treatment Clinic of Clinica’s Hospital, Federal University of Minas GeraisBelo HorizonteBrazil
  2. 2.Fundação Hospitalar do Estado de Minas GeraisBelo HorizonteBrazil
  3. 3.Brazilian Air ForceRio de JaneiroBrazil
  4. 4.UFMG Clinical HospitalBelo HorizonteBrazil
  5. 5.Rouen Normandy UniversityRouenFrance
  6. 6.Le Havre HospitalLe HavreFrance

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