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

sity of Pittsburgh.

In the study, 14 percent of the women screened positive for depression. Of that group, 826 received full psychiatric assessments during at-home visits. Some of the key findings from those assessments:

  • In women who screened positive for depression, 19.3 percent thought of harming themselves.

    "Most of these women would not have been screened and therefore would not have been identified as seriously at risk," Wisner said. "We believe screening will save lives."

    Suicide accounts for about 20 percent of postpartum deaths and is the second most common cause of mortality in postpartum women.

  • Many women who screened positive for major depression postpartum had already experienced at least one episode of depression previously and, in addition, had an anxiety disorder. The study found 30 percent of women had depression onset prior to pregnancy, 40 percent postpartum and 30 percent during pregnancy. More than two-thirds of these women also had an anxiety disorder.

    "Clinicians need to know that the most common clinical presentation in the post-birth period is more complex than a single episode of depression," Wisner said. "The depression is recurrent and superimposed on an anxiety disorder."

  • Of the women who screened positive for major depression, 22 percent had bipolar disorder, the majority of whom had not been diagnosed by their physicians. There is often a delay in correctly diagnosing bipolar disorder, which depends on identifying not only the depressed phase but the manic or hypomanic phase as well. But postpartum is the highest risk period for new episodes of mania in a woman's life.

"That's a very high rate of bipolar disorder that has never been reported in a population screened for postpartum depression before," said Wisner. "It is significant because antidepressant drug treatment alone can worsen the course of bipolar disorder."

In addition
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Contact: Erin White
ewhite@northwestern.edu
847-491-4888
Northwestern University
Source:Eurekalert

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