Pregnant women and new mothers should be screened for depression, according to newly released recommendations from a medical panel in the U.S.
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends that all adults be screened for depression, however, they give special attention to mothers, specifically pregnant and postpartum women.
The medical panel said that they’re placing special recognition to these women as research has shown they can be accurately diagnosed and successfully treated, according to the NPR, the U.S.' national public radio.
The panel’s recommendations are influential, the NPR states. “Many health insurers and health systems follow their suggestions,” they said. This could mean that the U.S. may soon be screening pregnant women for depression as part of mandatory procedure.
“Depression is the leading cause of disease-related disability in women around the world. Nine percent of pregnant women and 10 percent of new moms will go through a major depressive episode, according to evidence cited by the task force,” adds the NPR.
Previous studies have shown that children of depressed mothers are in danger of developing health and behavioral problems. A study published last year shows this to be true even if the mother’s depression is mild or has not been diagnosed.
Depression can be debilitating for anyone who has it. Symptoms of it include continuous low mood or sadness, feeling hopeless and helpless, and having no motivation or interest in things. Physical symptoms include disturbed sleep and a lack of energy.
The importance of treating postpartum depression cannot be stressed enough as untreated depression can harm not only the mother, but also her child. A depressed mom may not have enough energy to properly take care of herself, let alone her child. She may not be able to give the love that her newborn needs from her.
What’s worrisome is that many individuals, not just moms, are not comfortable with approaching a doctor about depression. Society has placed an awful stigma on it – and consequently people who have it – as there still prevails the view that the clinical disorder is the individual’s own fault.
Adding to the problem is the notion that pregnancy and postpartum depression is nothing more than “baby blues”. Depression is real; it requires attention and treatment. If you have signs of depression seek help right away.
Aside from consulting a professional, Dr. Lucille Montes, a licensed physician, psychologist and guidance counselor who holds clinic in the Makati and Alabang areas, gives this advice to new moms who suspect they have depression.
“Try to overcome the symptoms by identifying and refuting your self-defeating or irrational thoughts, and identifying who could be your social support network, i.e. wise and trusted people you can connect with who will encourage you, allow you to rest by helping you with tasks related to caring for the baby, people who will take time out to visit you or bring you out for some recreational activity, etc,” she told Smart Parenting in a previous article.
Sources: January 26, 2016. "Depression Screening Recommended For All Pregnant Women, New Mothers" (npr.org) January 26, 2016. "Doctors should screen pregnant women, new moms for depression, task force recommends" (cnn.com)