Major depression affects as many as 16% of reproductive-aged women in the U.S. Yet pregnant women have a higher rate of undiagnosed depression than nonpregnant women, according to a study published in Journal of Women's Health, a peer-reviewed publication from Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers.
Jean Ko, PhD and coauthors from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Atlanta, GA, found that more than 1 in 10 women ages 18-44 years had a major depressive event during the previous year -- representing about 1.2 million U.S. women -- but more than half of those women did not receive a diagnosis of depression and nearly half did not receive any mental health treatment. The article "Depression and Treatment among U.S. Pregnant and Nonpregnant Women of Reproductive Age, 2005-2009," further reports that disparities in receiving a diagnosis and treatment were associated with younger age, belonging to a racial/ethnic minority, and insurance status.
The accompanying Editorial entitled "Depression: Is Pregnancy Protective?" by Jennifer Payne, MD, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD, explores the ongoing challenges in the adequate diagnosis and treatment of major depression, the additional factors that come into play during pregnancy, and the implications of the Ko et al. study results.
"As health care providers, we simply must do a better job at diagnosing depression and referring women for mental health treatment. Reproductive health care visits provide an opportune time to address this ," says Susan G. Kornstein, MD, Editor-in-Chief of Journal of Women's Health, Executive Director of the Virginia Commonwealth University Institute for Women's Health, Richmond, VA, and President of the Academy of Women's Health.
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