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Two recent studies demonstrate that a universal screening program developed by Kaiser Permanente increased the number of women diagnosed with and treated for depression during and after pregnancy.
In the U.S. over 30% of Latinas report suffering from depression related to childbirth and according to a recent study this rate continues to grow.
As part of the screening program, Kaiser Permanente screened women using a nine question survey that was later shared with an obstetrician who reviewed the results and when depressive symptoms were present referred the patients to support groups and classes.
“We identified best practices, empowered advocates on site to help educate obstetricians, streamlined the work flow for screening during obstetric office visits and used data to continuously improve the program,” said Tracy Flanagan, MD, director of women’s health for Kaiser Permanente in Northern California, clinical lead of the screening program and lead author of the first study.
What are some of the symptoms of perinatal depression?
According to Dr. Flanagan a pregnant woman who is depressed “may feel down, sad, hopeless, or tired.”
“She may feel like a failure and have trouble concentrating on things and engaging with her family,” Flanagan said. “It also may affect her sleeping and eating. In the most extreme cases she may feel like hurting herself or her baby. Routine depression screening can help identify depression in mothers during their prenatal and postpartum care.”
Dr. Flanagan recommends all women who might feel some of the symptoms of perinatal depression to talk to their doctor about their symptoms.