Pregnancy News: Maternal Depression Screening Is Causing More Women To Avail Of Mental Healthcare Services

By Arvin Matthew, Parent Herald June 02, 08:16 pm

In philosophy, what you don't know won't hurt you. In medicine, what you do know will have you rushing to the nearest healthcare provider. A recent analysis on close to 9,000 women found that those who underwent regular maternal depression screening are more likely to avail of mental healthcare services before, during and after pregnancy.

Evaluation And Treatment

The study, published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, was spearheaded by Dr. Kartik K. Venkatesh from Massachusetts General Hospital and Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston. Venkatesh and his colleagues wanted to know if the addition of depression screening into regular prenatal and postpartum care would increase diagnosis and treatment of depressed women.

"Among nearly 9,000 women who were initially screened for depression, 576 screened positive, and close to 80 percent were linked to mental health services," the authors wrote. "Women were significantly more likely to follow up for a mental health evaluation if they screened positive for depression antepartum rather than postpartum."

The study also found that formal evaluation by a mental health provider was more frequent before pregnancy than after. Among women who were diagnosed with depression, 35 percent were prescribed with antidepressant medication.

The Perils Of Depression

According to the official Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website, depression is a common albeit serious mental disorder. Unlike occasional sadness, depression sinks deeper into people's psyche and interferes with daily life.

In pregnant women, depression has been linked to detrimental effects for both mother and child. Despite overwhelming evidence suggesting evaluation and treatment is beneficial, maternal depression is not always identified and treated properly. Here's hoping that will all soon change.

Standardized Screenings

The recent findings have prompted the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists to urge physicians to adopt a standardized means to screen pregnant women for depression. The recommendation was also seconded by the US Preventive Services Task Force, as per Medscape.

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