CLEVELAND -- Pregnant and postpartum women get singled out in the new US Preventative Services Task Force (USPSTF) depression screening guidelines. The new guidelines recommend depression screening for all adults at the primary care level but now add screening for pregnant and postpartum women regardless of risk factors.
"We tend to ignore that population," says Sheryl Kingsberg, PhD, Division Chief of Behavioral Medicine at University Hospitals Case Medical Center. "Not because we're ignoring depression but because we assume pregnant women should be happy, women who have babies should be happy. But in fact, the opposite is really true."
Dr. Kingsberg says clinical depression affects about 10 to 15 percent of pregnant and postpartum women, due to hormonal changes and/or lack of sleep from a newborn. Symptoms include loss of interest in things that bring pleasure, a sense of guilt, anxiety, a flat affect, and even suicidal thoughts.
"Even simply by screening, the rates of depression go down," says Dr. Kingsberg. "And by screening pregnant woman and postpartum women, we're essentially helping the fetus and newborns because pregnancy-related depression doesn't just affect the woman, it affects the baby as well."
"I'm thrilled with the guidelines," says Dr. Kingsberg who says not to minimize the effects of depression. "This is a very significant medical, not just mental health, problem."
Sound bites from Sheryl Kingsberg, PhD, Division Chief of Behavioral Medicine at University Hospitals Case Medical Center, and related b-roll are available for download on the University Hospitals Case Medical Center Newsroom at http://news.uhhospitals.org/.