In a study led by the University of Rochester Medical Center and published online by the journal Pediatrics, researchers have determined that there is a high degree of accuracy in making the initial determination of postpartum depression (“baby blues”) in urban, minority women when using three depression screening tools. This research was funded by the National Institute of Mental Health
Many women experience the so-called “baby blues.” When the feelings persist or worsen it may be clinical depression. The symptoms include insomnia, persistent sadness, lack of interest in nearly all activity, anxiety, change in appetite, persistent feelings of guilt, and thoughts of harming oneself or the baby. Postpartum depression affects up to 14 percent of new mothers in the United States, with higher rates among poor and minority women.
These screening tools have previously been evaluated but this is the first time they have been tested with a group for whom there is not much data – low-income women, especially African-American women, said Linda H. Chaudron, M.D., associate professor of Psychology, Pediatrics and of Obstetrics and Gynecology.
The three screening tools being evaluated were the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale, the Beck Depression Inventory II and the Postpartum Depression Screening Scale. By clicking on any of the links we have supplied to these tests, the reader can readily see just how simple they are and how quickly they can be administered (as reported – 5 minutes or less).
These screening tests are just that – screening mechanisms. Healthcare providers dealing with new mothers should be mindful of using these tools and thereby be in a position to help these mothers during this difficult time in their lives. This is not something restricted to obstetricians - it is for all healthcare providers who come in contact with any new moms, whom they suspect may be suffering from “baby blues.” Don’t assume all is well on the home front – ask! It won’t take much time, but it could provide much needed help for your patients.