Until recently, postpartum depression was something a new mother often suffered from in silence. Classic signs may have been present, but without proper education into the risk and what to look for, many cases went undetected.
Now, in a Health US News report, Spanish researchers announce they have developed ways to detect 80 percent of cases of postpartum depression. This mental illness is estimated to affect more than 10 percent of women who have given birth.
“Early diagnosis of postnatal [or, postpartum] depression would make it possible to intervene to prevent it from developing among women at risk,” said Salvador Tortajada, in a news release from the Scientific Information and News Service in Spain. Tortajada is a researcher at the Polytechnic University of Valencia and lead author of a new study on the methodology.
To determine effective methods for prediction of postpartum depression, these researchers examined records of 1,397 Spanish women who gave birth in an 11-month span in seven different hospitals. As a result, they developed several models to predict whether or not a women will suffer the condition within a few weeks of giving birth.
These models were developed by examining risk factors linked to postnatal depression. These factors include previous psychiatric problems in the family, the level of social support for the mother and the state of genes connected to postpartum depression.
Researchers determined that older age and working during pregnancy seemed to be effective factors in reducing the risk of postpartum depression.
So far, these methods achieved better accuracy rates than other models, but still need clinical evaluation. Authors also suggest that psychiatrists start to test the models directly on patients to study the true potential of the tools.