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Surprising rate of women depressed after baby
Date:3/14/2013

CHICAGO --- A surprisingly high number of women have postpartum depressive symptoms, according to a new, large-scale study by a Northwestern Medicine researcher.

This is the largest scale depression screening of postpartum women and the first time a full psychiatric assessment has been done in a study of postpartum women who screened positive for depression.

The study, which included a depression screening of 10,000 women who had recently delivered infants at single obstetrical hospital, revealed a large percentage of women who suffered recurrent episodes of major depression.

The study underscored the importance of prenatal as well as postpartum screening. Mothers' and infants' health and lives hang in the balance. The lives of several women who were suicidal when staff members called them for the screening were saved likely as a result of the study's screening and immediate intervention.

"In the U.S., the vast majority of postpartum women with depression are not identified or treated even though they are at higher risk for psychiatric disorders," said Northwestern Medicine lead study author Katherine L. Wisner, M.D. "It's a huge public health problem. A woman's mental health has a profound effect on fetal development as well as her child's physical and emotional development."

Wisner is director of Northwestern's Asher Center for the Study and Treatment of Depressive Disorders and the Norman and Helen Asher Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. She's also a physician at Northwestern Memorial Hospital.

"A lot of women do not understand what is happening to them," Wisner said. "They think they're just stressed or they believe it is how having a baby is supposed to feel."

The paper was be published in JAMA Psychiatry March 13. Wisner conducted the research when she was at the Univer
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Contact: Erin White
ewhite@northwestern.edu
847-491-4888
Northwestern University
Source:Eurekalert

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