Depression during pregnancy affects about one third of women, Chicago Tribune reports.
Researchers from Northwestern University conducted one of the first studies analyzing depression during three pregnancy time-points: pre-pregnancy, prenatal, and postpartum.
Until recently, most studies looked specifically at postpartum depression.
According to the study, 37 percent of women surveyed experienced depression while pregnant, 25 percent felt depressed pre-pregnancy, and 38 percent were depressed postpartum.
A variety of factors contribute to depression at each of these pregnancy time-points. A previous report cited infertility, sickness, and the stress of undergoing a life change as determinates for depression surrounding pregnancy.
Sheehan Fisher, study author and instructor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Northwestern University, emphasized the importance of understanding and anticipating how women might feel at various points throughout pregnancy.
By knowing that depression is common during pregnancy, doctors will better know what to look for “so it’s not dismissed as blues,” Fisher said.
Diagnosing depression during pregnancy is also important because depression that begins earlier – either prior to or during pregnancy – is often more severe and more likely to last longer because it is more likely to go untreated.
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force wants professionals to be aware of and have guidelines for depression during pregnancy, just as they do for postpartum depression. The organized recommended this year that women who are pregnant be screened for depression.
“Screening is the key factor,” Fisher said.