Depression screening suggested for pregnant women

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Depression is among the leading causes of disability in persons 15 years and older. Depression is also common in postpartum and pregnant women and affects moms and children, emphasizing the need for care.

After reviewing 23 publications, the U.S. Preventive Services task force found both direct and indirect evidence to suggest screening pregnant and postpartum women for depression may reduce symptoms of depression. 

Results were published in the January 2, 2016 JAMA Psychiatry.

Six trials showed an 18-percent decrease in the relative risk of depression after 3 to 5 months in pregnant women. The reduction was much more pronounced in postpartum women: screening decreased the relative risk by 59-percent.  

According to the paper, “observational evidence showed the second generation antidepressant use during pregnancy may be associated with small increases in the risks of potentially serious harms.”  

The task force also found adequate evidence the treatment with cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) improved clinical outcomes in pregnant and postpartum women with depression.

The screening tools included the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale. 

Jill Hechtman, M.D., a Tampa Bay area obstetrician, says her practice is regularly screening patients for depression over multiple visits during and after pregnancy.

Women who screen positive may be referred to mental health counselors or placed on medication. Women who cannot afford care, or who need help finding a provider, can get assistance by calling the Tampa Bay Crisis Center at 2-1-1. 

The Tampa Bay Crisis Center said it has an extensive database of mental health counselors to help patients navigate the system. 

Calls are confidential and you don’t need to be in crisis to contact the center.