Pregnant women are at increased risk for significant mood swings due to hormonal changes. After giving birth, women experience physiologic and emotional changes that can also influence moods. All of these factors contribute to the development of depression in some women. Antenatal and postpartum depression both pose significant health risks to the mother and child. Children of depressed mothers are more likely to experience abuse in the form of neglect or maltreatment than those of nondepressed mothers. Children of depressed mothers also have a greater risk of cognitive and behavioral developmental delays. The importance of identifying and treating these women cannot be overemphasized. However, the current assessment methods often result in inconsistent diagnoses.
In an effort to more accurately identify those women at risk for depression before and after childbirth, Rachel Mann of the Department of Health Sciences at the University of York in the UK recently conducted a study of 152 expectant mothers before and after delivery. Mann evaluated the responses to two questions that are used in triage care for depressed women. She then had the women answer a third question. Specifically, she asked the women if they believed they needed help for their depressed moods.
With the addition of this third question, Mann was able to eliminate any false-positive responses. This one question allowed Mann and her colleagues to identify the women most at risk for depression and distinguish them from those who were merely experiencing the normal, although sometimes extreme, mood swings that can accompany pregnancy and childbirth. Mann believes that this additional question, if used in conjunction with existing screening tools, could significantly decrease the number of incorrect depression diagnoses among pregnant women. “Identification of perinatal depression is important but represents only the first step,” said Mann. “It must be followed by confirmation of the diagnosis and appropriate treatment or referral.”
Mann, R., Adamson, J., Gilbody, S. M. (2012). Diagnostic accuracy of case-finding questions to identify perinatal depression: CMAJ. Canadian Medical Association Journal 184.8, E424-430.
© Copyright 2012 GoodTherapy.org. All rights reserved.
The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.