Yian WuFollow

Date of Award

January 2024

Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Public Health (MPH)


School of Public Health

First Advisor

Heping Zhang

Second Advisor

Tormod Rogne


Objective:Perinatal depression, affecting over 10% of pregnant and postpartum women globally, is a significant but often underrecognized mental health issue. Untreated symptoms can persist for years, highlighting the need for early intervention. This study, using the most recent National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) data available, aims to assess trends in perinatal depression prevalence and mental health care utilization in US. Methods: NHANES data from 2017 to March 2020 were analyzed, focusing on pregnant and postpartum women who had given birth within the last 24 months as the target population. The Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-9) was used to assess depressive symptoms, and demographic characteristics along with access to mental health care were evaluated. T-tests and chi-square tests (p < 0.05) were used for data analysis, with weights applied to provide nationally representative results. Results: The surveyed sample contains 295 pregnant and postpartum women, and 27 (9.2%, 95%CI: 5.9%, 12.4%) were identified as depressed (PHQ-9 score ≥10). When survey weights were applied, the estimated national depression prevalence was 8.2% (95%CI: 8.2%, 8.3%). Depressed perinatal women showed higher rates of mental health care seeking (50.1% vs. 6.4% for non-depressed). Conclusions: Awareness of mental healthcare utilization had increased but half of the depressed women were still not receiving any kind of treatment. Further research on perinatal depression and efforts to enhance screening and treatment are needed to better to support affected individuals and families.


This is an Open Access Thesis.

Open Access

This Article is Open Access