Three simple questions were just as good as conventional screening
for identifying potential postpartum depression among new mothers.
"Postpartum depression is under-diagnosed," said Dr. Adam Aponte, a
pediatrician and associate director for recruitment and retention at
Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City. "We found the fewer
the questions, the better. It opens the door for dialogue about how the
mom is doing. The last thing you want is a depressed mom. It's
important to screen."
Aponte was not involved in this study, which is in the September issue of Pediatrics.
According to background information in the study, postpartum
depression is the most common problem new mothers confront. The
condition is characterized by high levels of anxiety, but screening is
not routinely performed due to time and other constraints.
For the study, 199 14- to 26-year-old mothers filled out the
standard Edinburgh Postpartum Depression Scale at well-child visits
during the first six months after the birth of their child.
The women then filled out three shorter versions of that scale.
A three-item anxiety sub-scale of the Edinburgh Postpartum
Depression Scale turned out to be a better screening tool than the two
other abbreviated versions which are almost the same as the commonly
used Patient Health Questionnaire.
For the following three questions answer "Yes, most of the time," "Yes, some of the time," "Not very often" or "No, never.
- I have blamed myself unnecessarily when things went wrong.
- I have felt scared or panicky for not very good reason.
- I have been anxious or worried for not very good reason.
If you answered "Yes, most of the time" or "Yes, some of the time" to these three questions you may be experiencing Post-Partum depression. You should visit a fully qualified health care professional and undergo a full screening. There is support and many proven, reliable treatment options are available. These do not necessarily require the use of medications if this is a concern, particularly for mothers who are breast feeding. You may also benefit from our free "Preventing Post-Partum Depression" program. It is available by clicking here. This should not, however, be considered a suitable alternative to seeking qualified health care.