Where are Early Post-Partum Depression Screenings Falling Short?

A study whose findings recently appeared in the Annals of Family Medicine found that moms face the risk of developing depression for muchdepression longer than health professionals first thought. Fluctuating hormones and major life changes can trigger depression for new mothers. According to the study, new moms may be at risk for up to a year or longer.

The study gathered data from 1,432 women across the country at several junctures after they had given birth. For approximately 33 percent of those surveyed, this was their first time having a baby. Researchers asked these moms to score criteria such as lack of appetite, daily feelings of sadness and self-harm ideation on a scale of zero to three. A score of 10 or above was considered an indication of high risk for depression.

Results from the first screening conducted four to 12 weeks postpartum showed that 100 percent of the women scored under 10. However, after six months, 10.9 percent scored 10 or above and 12 months later 16.9 percent scored in the high-risk range. This confirms CDC estimates which say that 15 percent of U.S. women live with postpartum depression during their first year following childbirth.

What was perhaps more surprising was that women who initially appeared least apt to become depressed wound up in the high-risk category as time went on. The study indicates that depression screenings for new moms likely need to be administered beyond the initial one-to-three month period.

At Family Guidance Center we have experience helping men and women navigate through all kinds of life stages where depression poses a risk factor. The great news is that when it is addressed early on, depression is a treatable illness. With prompt help, moms or anyone confronted by depression, can find hope. Call us or stop by today.