Disorders and Treatment
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Despite what the ads on television show, not every woman who finds herself pregnant is deliriously happy. There are lots of reasons why that might be so, and lots of reasons why a woman might find herself depressed during pregnancy, including financial pressures, lack of partner or family support, health issues, hormonal shifts, concerns about employment, and unplanned or undesired pregnancies.
Perinatal depression encompasses all experiences of depression during the pregnancy and for a 12 month period following delivery. Studies have shown that as many as one in seven women experience some form of depression during this period.
The existing guidelines, dating back to 2009, recommend screening all adults for depression where resources exist for treatment, but do not address the need for perinatal screening. A proposal recently released by the U.S. Preventive Services taskforce recommends that all pregnant women, or women within a year of giving birth, be screened for perinatal depression. The recommendation is part of a larger proposal that urges that all adults be screened for depression.
The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists had previously endorsed a similar proposal.
Screening would be in the form of a brief questionnaire. Results of the questionnaire would prompt physicians to recommend a referral to a mental health professional for psychotherapy or medication.
The American Academy of Pediatrics has also proposed screening primary caregivers for symptoms of depression during the perinatal visit and the ongoing schedule of well-baby checkups.
Photo image by Vera Kratochvil
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