SAN ANTONIO — A depression prevention course offered during pregnancy significantly reduced the incidence of major depressive episodes before delivery in a group of Hispanic women at high risk for depression, reported Huynh-Nhu Le, Ph.D., at the annual meeting of the Society for Prevention Research. She expects the intervention will ultimately result in reduced rates of postpartum depression as well.
“A lot of research is now moving away from the idea of postpartum depression to a more general idea of pregnancy-related depression. Technically, postpartum depression occurs up to 4 weeks after birth—but in some cases, it may have started before delivery. What we're trying to do is prevent these women from becoming more depressed,” she said in an interview. “To do this, we need to integrate mental health screening into primary care settings.”
Her study included 143 Hispanic women, aged 18–35 years, who were less than 24 weeks pregnant. All were considered at high risk for depression based on their history of depression or a score of 16 or higher on the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale (CES-D). The women were randomized either to usual care or to an eight-session intervention that taught them mood regulation skills and provided information about parenting and child development.
Preliminary results from the intervention, measured 8 weeks before delivery, showed a significant decrease in the incidence of major depressive episodes in treated vs. nontreated women (1% vs. 7%), said Dr. Le of George Washington University, Washington.