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Antenatal depression missed in a quarter of mums with PND

Published: Thu 27 Aug 2015 04:39 PM
Antenatal depression missed in a quarter of mums with PND
ANTENATAL DEPRESSION MORE COMMON THAN RESEARCH SUGGESTS
ANTENATAL DEPRESSION MISSED IN A QUARTER OF MUMS WITH PND
CALL FOR SCREENING FOR ANTENATAL AND POSTNATAL DEPRESSION
Founder of PND-support charity Mothers Helpers, Kristina Paterson, estimates up to a quarter of mums with PND have undiagnosed depression when they are pregnant and is calling for nationwide screening.
Recent findings on antenatal-depression rates in New Zealand are the tip of the iceberg and nationwide screening is needed, says Kristina Paterson, Coordinator of Mothers Helpers, a postnatal-depression-support charity.
Around 12 percent of pregnant women showed signs of antenatal depression in a University of Auckland study published this week. But the numbers are probably far higher according to Ms Paterson: “One in eight is underestimating the situation. We find that 24% of mothers who we see with postnatal depression (PND) had symptoms of antenatal depression that were missed, leaving them undiagnosed and untreated.”
Diagnosing depression during pregnancy is optimal: “Early detection and treatment is the best chance a mother has for making a full and fast recovery. Leaving it untreated can significantly worsen the illness’ severity and length of recovery after birth, which impacts the whole family,” Kristina adds.
Kristina is calling for national antenatal-depression screening, despite what Ministry of Health head of child and youth health Pat Tuohy said earlier this week: “I disagree when Dr Tuohy says current strategies are working well and that there is not enough evidence yet for a formal screening programme.”
Kristina speaks from experience, having suffered untreated antenatal depression followed by postnatal depression after the birth of her son six years ago: “A lot of mothers don't realise that yes, anxiety or depression can occur during pregnancy and that it is far more common than we think.”
Mothers Helpers has been running recovery programmes for mothers with PND for the past 18 months, with rewarding results: “We're finding that most of the mothers who have gone through our course have either fully recovered or they've significantly improved and continue to improve.”
The 10-week courses focus on aspects that research shows benefit mothers with PND. Referrals to other support services based on mothers’ and families’ needs are also carried out by Mothers Helpers.
Kristina founded Mothers’ Helpers to plug a gap in which at-risk mothers were failing to be identified, monitored or supported to prevent PND. While severe cases of antenatal and PND are more likely to be referred to Maternal Mental Health services, Kristina felt that support was inadequate for mothers with mild-moderate depression who did not meet their criteria.
ends

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