ACOG Statement on Depression Screening

July 27, 2015

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) draft recommendations on screening for depression in adults:

“The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) is pleased that the USPSTF draft recommendations and draft evidence review conclude that screening for depression is appropriate for all adults, including pregnant and postpartum women. This complements both ACOG’s recommendations for the well-woman visit, which call for appropriate depression screening for all women, and the recently updated Committee Opinion on Screening for Perinatal Depression, which 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 by their physicians.

“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 using appropriate tools is especially important.

“The impact of untreated perinatal depression can have a devastating effect on families. Among the common causes of maternal mortality, suicide exceeds both hemorrhage and hypertensive disorders. Clearly, it is essential that perinatal depression be recognized as a serious medical condition with long-term implications for the mother and for her family.

“Of course, depression also impacts women who aren’t pregnant, and ob-gyns have a unique advantage in identifying and diagnosing depression in all of their patients. That’s why routine mental health screening is an important part of the well-woman visit.

“Importantly, screening for depression is only effective if it is coupled with systems for diagnosis and treatment. Physicians, including ob-gyns, must be prepared to respond with appropriate levels of care, including medical therapy and/or referral to mental health professionals.

“The perinatal period, in which women regularly visit their obstetrician-gynecologists, provides an opportunity for physicians to conduct routine screening for depression, but this screening remains important through a woman’s life. 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 more than 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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