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date: 19 April 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Mood and anxiety disorders are highly prevalent in perinatal samples, affecting as many as 20% of childbearing women (Gavin et al., 2005). In an effort to prevent adverse outcomes associated with perinatal mood and anxiety disorders, researchers and clinicians have advocated routine screening during the perinatal period (NRC, 2009). Although, there are several screening measures for depression, many of which have been used or validated in perinatal populations, few screening tools have been developed specifically for or validated in perinatal samples for bipolar disorder or anxiety disorders. Despite the ongoing need for brief, accurate, and easily administered screening measures, it seems clear that perinatal mood and anxiety screening is associated with substantial improvement in rate of detection (Georgiopoulous et al., 1999; Georgiopoulos, Bryan, Wollan, and Yawn, 2001; Gilbody, Sheldon, and House, 2008). However, in the absence of systematic protocols to ensure further assessment, treatment, and follow-up, screening is unlikely to have a positive impact on depression-associated morbidity (Gjerdingen, Katon, and Rich, 2008; Gilbody et al., 2008; Miller et al., 2012; NRC, 2009). Preliminary evidence suggests that screening for perinatal mood and anxiety disorders, when embedded within larger systems to ensure comprehensive assessment, connection to treatment, and regular monitoring, has the potential to improve outcomes for women and their families. The question of whether screening programs can ultimately decrease depression-associated morbidity and prevent adverse outcomes cannot be answered given the existing research base (Myers et al., 2013). Although much is left to be understood about perinatal screening for mood and anxiety disorders, the impact of this research lies in potential for reducing negative maternal outcomes as well as for prevention of the negative impact of perinatal depression on the health and well-being of babies born to depressed or anxious mothers.

Keywords: perinatal, depression, anxiety, diagnosis, screening, referral

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