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Counseling Can Help Prevent Pregnancy-Related Depression

Women at increased risk of pregnancy-related depression should be referred to counseling, a panel of national experts has recommended.

The recommendation was handed down Tuesday by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force.

Perinatal depression is one of the more common complications of pregnancy and the postpartum period and affects as many as one in seven pregnant women, a news release from the panel said.

Perinatal depression can develop during pregnancy or after childbirth. It “can result in negative short- and long-term consequences for both the mother and her baby, such as moms having difficulty bonding with their baby and babies getting fewer preventive health services,” the release added.

“Effective counseling interventions can help prevent perinatal depression before it develops,” said task force member Karina Davidson. “We can help prevent one of the most common and serious complications of having a baby.”

Two types of counseling interventions that were shown to be effective are cognitive behavioral therapy and interpersonal therapy.

This recommendation is for people at increased risk for perinatal depression, not those who have already been diagnosed with the condition. Currently, there is no accurate screening tool available to assess risk of perinatal depression, but there are certain factors that clinicians can use to determine risk.

People with a history of depression, symptoms of depression, and certain socioeconomic risk factors, such as being a young or single parent, may be at increased risk and benefit from intervention.

“Clinicians should use patient history and risk factors to identify pregnant or postpartum individuals who are most likely to benefit from counseling,” said task force member Aaron B. Caughey.

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