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Kaiser Permanente Study Shows One in Seven Women are Depressed Before, During, or After Pregnancy
Date:9/27/2007

OAKLAND, Calif., Sept. 27 /PRNewswire/ -- A new Kaiser Permanente study, the first integrated survey of maternal depression, shows that more than one in seven women are depressed at some time during the nine months before becoming pregnant, during pregnancy, or in the nine months after childbirth. The study, which appears in the October 2007 issue of The American Journal of Psychiatry, also found that more than half of the women who experienced postpartum depression had also been depressed before becoming pregnant or during pregnancy.

"These findings show we need to pay more attention to depression before pregnancy," said Evelyn Whitlock, MD, MPH, senior investigator at the Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research and co-author of the study. "Doctors and the public tend to focus more on postpartum depression because of the huge gap between a new mother's joyful expectations and the crushing reality of depression."

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

"While postpartum depression clearly is an important concern," Whitlock added, "we also need to consider the mental health and treatment needs of the many women who are depressed right before or during their pregnancies."

Investigators at the Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research profiled 4,398 women who gave birth between 1998 and 2001. They found that 8.7 percent were identified as depressed in the nine months before pregnancy, 6.9 percent during pregnancy, and 10.4 percent in the nine months following childbirth. A total of 15.4 percent -- more than one in seven women -- were depressed during at least one of these three periods. Nearly three-fourths of women with postpartum depression also were depressed before pregnancy, and more than half of the women depressed before pregnancy then
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SOURCE Kaiser Permanente
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