Pregnant Women & New Moms Can Benefit from this Screening

HealthLink: News You Can Use

August 29, 2017

Pregnant Women & New Moms Can Benefit from this Screening

by Holy Redeemer

If you or a loved one is suffering from depression during pregnancy or after childbirth, you are not alone. “Many new moms have feelings of sadness and anxiety, and a percentage of pregnant women and new moms can experience a complication of pregnancy known as postpartum depression,” says Patricia McGettigan, M.S., Administrative Director of Holy Redeemer Counseling Center.

If untreated, depression can harm women and their children. Yet many women do not seek help for it. That is why the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force has updated its depression screening guidelines. For the first time, the organization is recommending depression screenings specifically for pregnant women and new moms, covered under the Affordable Care Act. “With more widespread screening, more women will receive the diagnosis and treatment they need to get better,” says McGettigan.

Most new moms experience some form of “baby blues,” feelings of sadness or worry lasting about two weeks after childbirth. For some women, these feelings do not go away and become worse. If you or a loved one is experiencing this ongoing depression, talk with your doctor. It may be postpartum depression, a mood disorder that affects about 15 percent of new moms.

If you are pregnant, you are also vulnerable to depression – it affects about 10 percent of expectant mothers. And about half of women with postpartum depression had symptoms during pregnancy. Depression that occurs both during pregnancy and up to 12 months after childbirth is called perinatal depression.

What Does Depression Look Like?

“Depression during pregnancy or following the birth of your baby does not mean you are a bad mom,” says McGettigan. “It is a psychological disorder, and it is treatable.” Experts believe that hormonal changes may be to blame, but depression is not caused by one thing.

If you have perinatal depression, you may experience symptoms such as:

  • Sadness or anxiety
  • Crying spells
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Loss of appetite
  • Hopelessness
  • Low energy
  • Thoughts of hurting yourself or the baby

Treatment Works

To screen you for depression, your doctor will have you answer a series of questions. Answer honestly so you can get the help you need.

Screening is just the first step. After a diagnosis of perinatal depression, your doctor will recommend treatment options and follow-up-care. Two types of treatment are talk therapy and prescription medicines. Talk therapy, such as counseling and cognitive-behavior therapy, is safe and effective for pregnant women and new moms. However, antidepressants may not be safe for your baby if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.

“Your doctor will work with you to figure out the right treatment plan,” says McGettigan. “You and your baby do not have to suffer through depression.

Help is Here

If you think you might be depressed, make an appointment with a licensed therapist at the Holy Redeemer Counseling Center at 215-914-4190 or visit here.

Related Taxonomy
  - Maternity
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