A national panel of experts found that counseling can prevent depression during and after pregnancy. (Photo11: Getty Images)

The number of women who experience depression during or after pregnancy is incredibly high.

Perinatal depression affects up to 1 in 7 women, according to estimates. US Task Force on Prevention Services. This is one of the most common complications of pregnancy and after childbirth.

And this can be avoided, according to new research.

A report published in JAMA by the US Preventive Services Task Force found that care such as testing and counseling in mental health effectively prevents perinatal depression.

"We really need to find these women before they become depressed," said Karina Davidson, a member of the working group and executive vice president of research at Northwell Health in the New York Times.

What is perinatal depression?

Perinatal depression refers to depressive disorders during pregnancy or the postpartum period.

The symptoms include, according to the JAMA report:

  • loss of interest and energy
  • depressed mood
  • sleep fluctuations or eating habits
  • reduced ability to think or concentrate
  • feelings of uselessness
  • recurring thoughts of suicide.

Depression is different from common baby blues. While both refer to mood disorders that can result in crying, irritability, fatigue, and anxiety, depression lasts more than two weeks, while that the "baby blues" usually disappears within 10 days of delivery.

The mother's illness can also affect her child. This can lead to premature birth and low birth weight. Children of mothers with perinatal depression have more behavioral problems, lower cognitive functioning and an increased risk of developing psychiatric disorders, the report says.

How to prevent perinatal depression?

The group of clinicians and researchers examined various methods of preventing depression. Among them:

  • Physical activity.
  • antidepressants
  • Omega-3 fatty acids.
  • Expressive writing.
  • Infant sleep training.
  • Advice.
  • Education.
  • Yoga.

The board was the winner. He reduced the risk of depression by 39%.

The panel particularly favored cognitive-behavioral therapy and interpersonal therapy.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy addresses an individual's thought and behavior patterns, while interpersonal therapy focuses on the relationships and actions of one person with others.

MORE: Let's all stop saying these things to pregnant women and new moms

Health care providers should refer at-risk women to counseling services, panel recommended

The good news?

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, screening for depression is free for mothers under the Affordable Care Act.

Bad news?

Since there is no standard screening tool for health professionals to test for perinatal depression, it is "more complex to assess risk" and to determine precisely if a woman is at risk. , writes Marlene P. Freeman, a psychiatrist at Harvard Medical School. accompanying the recommendations.

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