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Not All Troubled New Moms Are Depressed

Many have stress and anxiety unconnected to depression, study finds

FRIDAY, March 24, 2006 (HealthDay News) -- Most doctors are well aware of the risk of postpartum depression in new mothers. But an Australian study suggests that post-delivery stress and anxiety can occur apart from depression -- and might not be picked up on standard tests.

The study included 325 first-time mothers, six weeks to six months postnatal, who were assessed for depression, anxiety and stress using the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS) and the Depression, Anxiety and Stress Scales (DASS), a standard measurement.

Symptoms of depression were identified in 61 women. The researchers also found that 33 women (10 percent) had symptoms of stress and anxiety independent of depression. They noted that the women with stress and anxiety would not have been identified using the EPDS alone.

Putting an emphasis on depression as the only indicator for emotional distress in postnatal women means that new mothers with anxiety and stress may not receive treatment for those problems, the researchers said.

The researchers said it was important for doctors and other health workers to be on the lookout for signs of anxiety and stress in postnatal women, along with symptoms of depression.

The study appears in the online edition of BMC Psychiatry.

More information

The American Psychiatric Association has more about postpartum depression.

SOURCE: BioMed Central, news release, March 23, 2006
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