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J Affect Disord. 2010 Sep;125(1-3):18-26. doi: 10.1016/j.jad.2009.09.014. Epub 2009 Oct 17.

Assessment and treatment of bipolar II postpartum depression: a review.

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Department of Psychiatry, University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario, Canada.



This paper critically reviews the current literature on the detection, diagnosis, and treatment of bipolar II postpartum depression.


A Pub-Med search (1998-2009), using the search terms 'postpartum depression', 'postpartum depression AND screening/detection/diagnosis/treatment', 'bipolar I AND postpartum depression', 'bipolar II AND postpartum depression', 'postpartum hypomania', and 'postpartum hypomania AND screening', was carried out. The reference lists of articles identified were also searched to select other relevant publications.


Brief hypomanic symptoms occur in the early puerperium in approximately 15% of women. Despite preliminary evidence that postpartum depression in some patients may be a manifestation of bipolar II disorder or bipolar disorder NOS, there are no screening instruments to differentiate unipolar from bipolar depression arising in pregnancy or the postpartum. Also lacking are evidence-based treatment options specifically targeted to treat bipolar II postpartum depression.


Research into postpartum mood disorders has focused primarily on major depressive disorder, bipolar I disorder, and puerperal psychosis, and has largely ignored the study of bipolarity beyond bipolar I disorder. The clinical and research implications of the misdiagnosis of bipolar II depression as major depressive disorder in the postpartum period are discussed.

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