Updates to recommendations for depression screenings mean more adults will be tested.
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force now suggests everyone over the age of 18 should be screened for depression by primary care doctors — and those doctors should also screen pregnant women and women who recently gave birth.
New recommendations for depression screenings
The updates affect groups not previously covered by recommendations made in 2009.
Dr. Michael P. Pignone is one of the authors of the recommendations. The professor of medicine at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine said primary care doctors do not only include family doctors but obstetricians and gynecologists.
Read more: 19 resources to help you eat better
Pignone said the most important thing is training primary care doctors to be trained to treat them or refer them to a mental health care provider.
‘We believe that all practices should have adequate systems in place to screen, treat and follow up on depression,’ Pignone said. ‘I think compared to 15 years ago, more primary care practices are equipped to do this work.’
Importance of screening pregnant women and new moms
The addition of pregnant women and new mothers to the screening recommendations is promising to Ellen L. Poleshuck, who is director of the Collaborative Care Services and Women’s Behavioral Health Service at the University of Rochester Medical Center.
‘One of the things that I think is exciting about these new recommendations is the decision to specify that it includes pregnant and postpartum women because we know that untreated depression in (these) women can affect the baby as well as the mother,’ Poleshuck said.
But Poleshuck said she mostly agrees with the recommendation that these women are first treated with therapy amid questions about the safety of antidepressants in fetuses and breastfeeding babies.
‘I think for women with severe depression or a history of responding well to antidepressants in the past, we may want to consider treating with antidepressants earlier. I think it has to be a patient-specific decision.’