ACOG Statement on Depression Screening

January 26, 2016

Washington, DC — Mark S. DeFrancesco, MD, President of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, today released the following statement regarding the United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommendations on screening for depression:

"The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) is pleased that the USPSTF recognizes that screening for depression is appropriate for all adults, including pregnant and postpartum women. ACOG has long recommended depression screening for all women, both as a part of the well-woman visit and during the perinatal period. Specifically, ACOG's  Committee Opinion on Screening for Perinatal Depression recommends routine screening for depression for all women at least once during the perinatal period.

"ACOG's Committee Opinion also adds that women at high risk of depression – for example, with a history of depression or anxiety – warrant especially close monitoring.

"Perinatal depression – or depression that occurs during pregnancy or in the first 12 months after delivery – is estimated to affect one in seven women, making it one of the most common medical complications associated with pregnancy. Because fewer than 20 percent of women in whom perinatal depression is diagnosed self-report their symptoms, routine screening by physicians is important for ensuring appropriate follow-up and treatment. Fortunately, we have a variety of treatment options – such as lifestyle changes, therapy, and medication – that help women control depression and enjoy their growing families.

"Of course, depression also impacts women who aren't pregnant. Because of the open, close nature of our relationship with our patients, ob-gyns have a unique role to play in identifying depression in the women we treat. That's why routine mental health screening is an important part of the well-woman visit.

"We hope that the Task Force's recommendations will improve depression screening among all women, but we also recognize that there are additional opportunities for improvement in routine screening and access to treatment. The Bringing Postpartum Depression Out of the Shadows Act (H.R. 3235/S.2311), introduced by Reps. Katherine Clark (D-Mass) and Ryan Costello (R-PA) and Sens. Dean Heller (R-NV) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), would increase the ability of states to provide resources to improve routine depression screening and treatment for postpartum depression. ACOG applauds the USPSTF for recognizing the important role that screening can play in helping patients get the care that they need."
ACOG's Resource Overview on Depression and Postpartum Depression can be found here.
ACOG's Patient FAQ on Depression can be found here.
ACOG's Patient FAQ on Postpartum Depression can be found here.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (The College), a 501(c)(3) organization, is the nation's leading group of physicians providing health care for women. As a private, voluntary, nonprofit membership organization of approximately 58,000 members, The College strongly advocates for quality health care for women, maintains the highest standards of clinical practice and continuing education of its members, promotes patient education, and increases awareness among its members and the public of the changing issues facing women’s health care. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), a 501(c)(6) organization, is its companion organization.

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