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15% of Women Struggle With Pregnancy-Related Depression
Date:9/28/2007

Doctors need to be more proactive in diagnosing the condition, study says

FRIDAY, Sept. 28 (HealthDay News) -- One in seven women suffers from depression before, during or after pregnancy, a new study finds.

The consequences of depression can be devastating to the mother, her baby and her entire family, according to the report in the October issue of The American Journal of Psychiatry.

"The prevalence of women diagnosed with depression before, during and after pregnancy was pretty similar," said lead author Patricia Dietz, an epidemiologist at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Division of Reproductive Health.

"There are a lot of women who are becoming pregnant with depression, and that's really important for people providing prenatal care to be aware of," she said.

Screening for depression needs to occur during pregnancy and right afterward, Dietz said.

The consequences of postpartum depression, which affects 400,000 women in the United States, can be significant. It can inhibit a woman's ability to bond with her baby, relate to the child's father, and perform daily activities, according to background information for the study.

For the study, sponsored by Kaiser Permanente, Dietz's team collected data on 4,398 women who gave birth between 1998 and 2001. They found that 8.7 percent of the women experienced depression in the nine months before pregnancy, 6.9 percent during pregnancy, and 10.4 percent in the nine months following childbirth.

Some 15.4 percent of the women were depressed during at least one of these periods. Almost 75 percent of women with postpartum depression also suffered from depression before pregnancy. And more than 50 percent of women who were depressed before pregnancy were depressed during pregnancy, Dietz said.

"For many women, it's a chronic condition," she said.

In addition, 93.4 percent of the wom
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