Not one kind of depression affects all, nor every depressed patient is administered the same kind of antidepressants. Because of the fact that causes and symptoms of depression are different, women are more prone to the risk than men. While many factors, including reproductive hormones and societal pressure, can contribute to depression in women, it is necessary to realize that the problem needs to be looked upon as a serious illness that needs treatment. According to the National Mental Health Association, about one in every eight women develops depression at some point during her lifetime.
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF), on January 26, 2016 recommended screening of women during pregnancy and after birth. The recommendations published in The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) are based on recent evidence that the onset of postpartum depression can begin during pregnancy and the need to realize that issues pertaining to mental health are more common than previously thought. The guidelines issued as an update of the 2009 USPSTF recommendation on screening for depression in adults reviewed proofs and verifications regarding the harms and benefits of screening for depression in adult populations, including pregnant women. The level of accuracy of the instruments used for screening presence of depression apart from the benefits and harms of depression treatment in these populations.
Dr. Michael Pignone, a professor of medicine at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and an author of the recommendation issued by the USPSTF, told the New York Times, “There’s better evidence for identifying and treating women with depression during and after pregnancy. We specifically called out the need for screening during this period.” The rationale behind the implementation of these guidelines lies in the fact that depression is one of the leading causes of disability among persons 15 years or older and the evidence found by the USPSTF that programs combining depression screening with adequate support systems in place improve clinical outcomes (i.e., reduction or remission of depression symptoms) in adults, including pregnant and postpartum women.
Evidence also pointed out that treatment with cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) helps to ameliorate clinical outcomes in pregnant and postpartum women with depression. Stressing on the need for screening and detection of depression among adult women in America, Katy Kozhimannil, an associate professor of public health at the University of Minnesota told the New York Times, “It’s very significant that the task force is now putting forth a recommendation that’s specific to pregnant and postpartum women. Policy makers will pay attention to it. Increased screening and detection of depression is an enormous public health need.”
Dr. Michael E. Thase, professor of psychiatry at University of Pennsylvania and the Corporal Michael J. Crescenz Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Philadelphia, was quoted by CNN.com as saying, “These recommendations are taking something that is good and making it even better.”
Key research findings
In a previous study titled “Heterogeneity of postpartum depression: a latent class analysis,” based on data of more than 8,200 women from 19 centers in seven countries and published online on December 21, 2014 in the Lancet Psychiatry, researchers concluded that the severest symptoms of depression including suicidal thoughts, panic and frequent crying had initiated most often during pregnancy and not after birth. Leah Rubin, an assistant professor in the Women’s Mental Health Research Program at University of Illinois, Chicago, and a co-author of a commentary about the study, described it as the first step in the right direction.
The guidelines come at a time when at least one in seven mothers is experiencing this disorder. The depression that coincides with pregnancy and continues even after delivery creates problems in mothers due to which they pay less attention to their own health before and during pregnancy, which in turn may pose health hazards to the children too.
Road to recovery
If you or your loved one is battling depression or any other mental problem or addiction, you may seek help of Sovereign Mental Health Services experts. Call our 24/7 helpline at 866-954-0529 or chat with a representative online for further information concerning certified therapeutic interventions and proper medical care.