Date of Award


Degree Type

Selective Evidence-Based Medicine Review

Degree Name

Master of Science in Health Sciences - Physician Assistant


Physician Assistant Studies

Department Chair

John Cavenagh, PhD, PA-C


OBJECTIVE: The objective of this selective EBM review is to determine whether or not exercise alleviates the symptoms of postpartum depression.

STUDY DESIGN: This review consists of 2 randomized control trials, published in 2009 and 2010, and one cohort study published in 2009.

DATA SOURCES: Sources were studies comparing aerobic exercise to groups who performed no exercise which were found via Pubmed, MEDLINE, Ovid and Cochrane databases.

OUTCOMES MEASURED: The three articles measured various outcomes: Psychological well being, depressive symptoms and hospital admission or medication due to postpartum depressive symptoms which were measured through phone interviews and surveys. The Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression, Edinburg Postnatal Depression Scale, Positive Affect Balance Scale and the Danish Psychiatric Central Register were the sources of these measurements.

RESULTS: DaCosta et al showed that exercise was successful in lessening mild to moderate postpartum depressed moods. Strom et al found that exercise was an effective treatment of PPD, however only when women were exercising at a higher level of intensity. Norman et al has results showing that a combination of exercise and education improved postpartum mood.

CONCLUSION: The conclusion of the three reviewed trials was that aerobic exercise is a safe and effective way for postpartum depressive symptoms to be alleviated. Future studies should focus on a detailed analysis of what intensities of exercise are needed and what amount of exercise (minutes/day or minutes/week) will be most beneficial to the depressed patient.