SPRINGFIELD – Women’s Health Associates, a specialized women’s health care practice providing obstetrical and gynecological care in Springfield and Westfield, announced that health care professionals at Women’s Health Associates are implementing a universal screening goal to identify patients at-risk for postpartum depression and encouraging women to seek treatment if necessary.|
“Routine screening has become the standard of care for other pregnancy-related diseases, far less common than postpartum depression. Yet, historically, there has been little attention, screening and virtually no community resources to address this critical issue,” Dr. Jacqueline S. Kates, a physician at Women’s Health Associates, said. “We need greater awareness of the gravity and necessity of identification and treatment.”
According to Kates, there are established risk factors that can help predict which women might be more at risk than others, but health care providers must remember that anyone can be affected by postpartum depression and other perinatal mood disorders. The signs and symptoms of postpartum depression can vary and can occur at any time both before and after birth, continuing far beyond the immediate postpartum time period.
“Ideally, anyone who comes in contact with a woman can help identify her symptoms and get her appropriate care,” Kates said. “The goal is to get all family members and health care providers to be as informed as possible.”
Equally important to identifying risk factors is understanding that it is not only mothers who can be affected; individual family members and families as a whole can suffer from postpartum depression. For those affected, there are multiple treatment options, including talk therapy, support groups and medication.
“In the past, women have been suffering alone. I have heard countless women tell me how guilty they feel. They believe that this time is meant to be the best time of their life and they feel awful that their feelings aren’t consistent with this perception. They are concerned about being judged and criticized,” Kates said. “It is important for women to be aware of perinatal mood disorders and the treatments available so they do not need to struggle alone.”
The treatment for postpartum depression lasts as long as necessary, according to Kates. The earlier a woman is identified, the sooner she can get the assistance she needs.
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