The United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommended in its latest published depression-screening guidelines that primary care doctors should screen women for depression during and after giving birth. This is the first time the institution recommends it.
The recommendation was due to a new evidence that maternal illness is more common than everyone thought, and that many cases of the better know postpartum depression starts during pregnancy. This untreated illness could put in danger the child.
“There is better evidence for identifying and treating women with depression” during and after pregnancy, said Dr. Michael Pignone, a professor of medicine at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and an author of the recommendation. Thanks to the evidence available, the Task Force concluded that it was necessary to screening women during this period.
Dr. Pignone addressed the untreated depression and stated that could lead to “a lot of adverse consequences”. One of those could be that depressed pregnant women often take poorer care of their prenatal health and added that screening caused no harm and could be accompanied by minimal counseling.
A decade ago there was more concern about depression treatment than the consequences itself, said Wendy N. Davis, the executive director of Postpartum Support International. She added that medical providers would tell her that if the screen came positively for depression and anxiety, they were afraid that the diagnostic itself could make her scare.
David added that the screening tool actually can give a “language” for both the providers and the patients to feel comfortable talking about it and prevent the stigma.
The Task Force rated the recommendation with a “B”, which means that the depression screening must be covered under the Affordable Care Act, as reported by the New York Times.
The panel did not specify which clinician should do the screen or how often, but experts recommended that any doctor with a relation to the patient should follow the guidelines and do it. They also added that the clinicians have the ability to diagnose and treat women, or to refer them elsewhere.
Source: The New York Times