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Depression Screenings Recommended for All Pregnant and New Moms

Photograph by Twenty20

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force has just announced that it's recommending screenings for depression for all pregnant women and new moms. In an era when postpartum depression is so prevalent and still not often openly talked about, this is a big step towards identifying the condition in moms and getting them the help they need to be strong and healthy for themselves and their baby.

While the independently-run organization has released similar recommendations for adults before, this is the first time that they've specifically pointed out pregnant and postpartum women. The task force says they've included this group because, without treatment, depression can not only harm the affected woman, but her child as well.

According to evidence released by the task force, about 10 percent for new moms will experience a major depressive episode. The organization's recommendation is so important because a lot of health care systems and health insurance companies have followed their suggestions in the past.

While the group is not advocating for the use of antidepressants to treat the depression in breastfeeding and pregnant mothers—especially in light of recent studies linking SSRIs to autism—they are recommending cognitive behavioral therapy and counseling instead.

Katy Kozhimannil, an associate professor of public health at the University of Minnesota, tells the New York Times, "It's very significant that the task force is now putting forth a recommendation that's specific to pregnant and postpartum women. Policy makers will pay attention to it. Increased screening and detection of depression is an enormous public health need."

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