The new president of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Dr. Gerald F. Joseph, announced during his inaugural speech that postpartum depression is the theme of his presidential initiative. How about that?! Here are highlights, as reported by ACOG:
"While in an ideal world, the newly delivered mother is at the peak of her reproductive health, with a beautiful child and, ideally, a supportive, loving family, this unfortunately is not always the case," said Dr. Joseph. "Studies show that this is a most vulnerable time for our patients, especially those prone to depression or those with a history of depression." Complicating matters is that the new mother often can't bring herself to admit to any problems or negative emotions due to societal pressures, he said. Instead of asking for help, she may feel guilty for not being 'grateful' or a 'good' mother.
Dr. Joseph explained that the 'baby blues,' which affect as many as 80% of new mothers, usually start early after delivery and spontaneously resolve within a very short period of time. "But what happens when these negative feelings don't resolve and true major depression becomes a part of the process?" he asked. "This can be devastating for the mother, the child, the partner, the family, and the ob-gyn who is caring for her."
There are three areas in particular that need to be addressed, according to Dr. Joseph. "First, we need to determine the true prevalence and incidence of postpartum depression," he said. Because definitions of depression vary among different studies, postpartum depression is estimated to range anywhere from five percent to more than 25 percent, depending on these changing definitions and the diversity of populations studied. "Second, the available screening tools to assess potentially at-risk pregnant women often are imprecise and leave much to be desired. And, finally, we need to develop evidence-based guidelines for ACOG members to screen for postpartum depression."
"We also need to know how ACOG Fellows screen and identify patients suffering from postpartum depression," Dr. Joseph continued. "When do they counsel? How do they treat? Do they refer to other specialists for treatment? What kind of local programs are available for education and support? These are all questions that we need answers to."
Thank you Dr. Joseph.