Postpartum depression is a treatable disease
By Jan Jarvis
Bringing home a baby is supposed to be one of the happiest times in a woman’s life.
When it’s not, women often feel as if something is wrong with them, said Shanna Combs, MD, Assistant Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at UNT Health Science Center.
“They’re depressed, but women are very good at masking that,” she said.
The U.S. Preventative Service Task Force, a government advisory group made up of national experts in evidence-based medicine, has updated its recommendations on who should be screened for depression to include pregnant and postpartum women, regardless of risk factors.
Screening all women who are pregnant or have given birth is a step toward decreasing the stigma around mental illness. The screenings also must be covered under the Affordable Care Act.
As many as 1-in-7 women shows signs of depression after birth, but they may downplay the symptoms. Dr. Combs said she talks to her patients about depression and gives them a 10-question test that screens for it.
“A lot of the time, they’ll have a smile on their face,” she said. “But when I give them the test, they fail it.”
Patients with depression are usually treated with counseling and medication. But left untreated, depression can harm the baby, as well as the mother.
“When you have a depressed mom, it really affects the development of the child,” Dr. Combs said. “Lack of bonding and attachment can have a lifelong impact.”
Symptoms – including anxiety, frequent crying and obsessional thoughts – often show up within six weeks of the baby’s birth, but not always. Postpartum depression can occur up to a year later.
“For some women, it may not happen until they go back to work or start to wean the baby off breastfeeding,” Dr. Combs said.
Although there is still a stigma associated with depression, the guidelines focus attention on postpartum depression as a medical issue that needs to be screened for, Dr. Combs said.
“It’s a treatable disease, just like high blood pressure,” she said.
By Sally Crocker Three nationally known alcohol and substance abuse researchers -- Dr. Melissa A. Lewis, Dr. Dana M. Litt and Dr. Eun-Young Mun – have been appointed to the UNTHSC School of Public Health faculty, underlining the school’s intent to become a national center of excellence in...Read more
Jan 22, 2018
By Jan Jarvis Forty-six UNT Health Science Center physicians have been recognized as Top Doctors, as selected by their peers for listings in Texas Monthly, Fort Worth Magazine and 360 West. Three UNTHSC physicians from Geriatrics have been recognized as Super Doctors by Texas Monthly...Read more
Jan 18, 2018
By Jan Jarvis As someone who enjoys a good meal, Molly Chang was eager to sample the different dishes that are cooked each week in the Culinary Medicine course. “I love trying out recipes and eating new foods, so cooking with friends and getting a free meal is right up my alley,”...Read more
Jan 17, 2018
By Alex Branch A 2015 School of Health Professions graduate will help put injured Miami Marlins baseball players back on the playing field this summer. Steve Carlin PT, DPT, will treat players throughout the organization as the rehabilitation coordinator at the Marlins spring training faci...Read more
Jan 9, 2018