Postpartum Depression Screening
Postpartum depression is the most common complication of childbearing.
Posted June 8, 2012
We have a plethora of data stating how important it is for every new mom to be screened for postpartum depression. Whether it occurs in the office of the OB/GYN, pediatrician, midwife or other healthcare professional, it’s crucial it happens. We’ve known for decades that early detection of any disorder can lead to swift treatment and greatly minimize the severity of the disease. Postpartum depression is no different.
Postpartum depression is the most common complication of childbearing. OB/GYNs are still not taught sufficiently in medical school about the postpartum mood and anxiety disorders, but the most competent and caring docs are making sure they somehow attain the appropriate training. They know that when postpartum depression or psychosis is not caught early and proper treatment given it can easily and quickly spiral down and can cause suicide and/or harm to the baby. Dr. James Breeden, the current president of ACOG (The American Congress of Obstetrics and Gynecology) has named postpartum depression as a major focus of the organization. This is excellent news and he is to be commended.
We as patients should never be required to diagnose ourselves – not with cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure or with any other disorder. However, some practitioners still think we should be able to diagnose ourselves when it comes to postpartum depression and be responsible for coming forward with the information. This is obviously absurd for many reasons. Often a new mom doesn’t know why she’s suffering – she just knows she doesn’t feel like herself. It is up to her medical practitioners to ask the right questions during a screening and elicit the information necessary, so she can be referred to a specialist who works in this field. She should be able to rely on her practitioners to screen, diagnose and treat as she would for any other health issue.
Many of my referrals come from OB’s. They have screened their patients and send to me those who might be heading down the depression path for a complete evaluation. That’s the kind of OB you want. On a regular basis for the last 25 years I’ve been asked by OB/GYN’s, pediatricians, general practitioners, psychiatrists and other wonderful healthcare practitioners who work with new moms to please train them. I’m always happy to do so, since I know this means better care and less suffering for mommies and their families.
In addition, the best of OB/GYNs are also screening their pregnant patients for depression once a trimester, since prenatal depression is at least as common as it is after the baby is born. Doesn’t it seem odd that pregnant women are screened as a matter of standard protocol for gestational diabetes, and that disorder occurs at lower than half the rate of clinical depression during pregnancy?
If you’re pregnant or a new mom and have not been screened by your OB’s office or given a pamphlet on the signs and symptoms of postpartum depression, please take a look at the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale online (also referred to as the EPDS). It’s printed out fully in certain postpartum books, so email me if you’d like some good suggestions. Here’s to your health!