As the nation’s leading group of physicians providing health care for women, The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists is pleased to support National Depression Screening Day on October 6. Women who feel that they may be suffering from depression are encouraged to take advantage of the free screenings available online and at various locations across the country.
Depression is a common, yet underdiagnosed medical disorder. About 1 in 20 Americans are affected by depression each year. Symptoms may include: feeling sad, blue, or “down in the dumps”; lack of interest in things you used to enjoy; feelings of worthlessness, hopelessness, or guilt; increase or decrease in appetite; thoughts of death or suicide; increase or decrease in weight; sleeping too much or too little; lack of energy; problems concentrating; anxiety; headaches or other aches and pains; irritability; digestive problems; and sexual problems, among others.
Roughly 10% of new mothers suffer from postpartum depression, a common but often undiagnosed condition that presents significant health risks to both women and their babies if left untreated. Postpartum depression is different from the more common “baby blues”, which affects between 70-80% of women following birth and normally goes away in a week or so without treatment. Postpartum depression usually begins within the first few weeks after giving birth. The causes of postpartum depression are unknown, but research suggests that it may be triggered by the hormonal shifts occurring after delivery and can be made worse by the stress of a major life change such as having a new baby to care for. Without diagnosis and treatment, postpartum depression can become worse. For more on women and depression, go to www.acog.org.
The first step in getting help is to get screened and properly diagnosed. Treatment includes counseling and/or psychotherapy, medication, or both. On National Depression Screening Day, more than 1,500 hospitals, colleges, community-based organizations, and military installations nationwide will be offering free, anonymous screenings for depression and any related mood and/or anxiety disorders. To find the nearest screening location or to take an online depression screening, go to www.helpyourselfhelpothers.org.
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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 55,000 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. www.acog.org