Depressive symptoms among pregnant women screened in obstetrics settings

J Womens Health (Larchmt). 2003 May;12(4):373-80. doi: 10.1089/154099903765448880.


Objectives: This study aimed to describe the prevalence of depressive symptomatology during pregnancy when seen in obstetric settings, the extent of treatment in this population, and specific risk factors associated with mood symptoms in pregnancy.

Methods: A total of 3472 pregnant women age 18 and older were screened while waiting for their prenatal care visits in 10 obstetrics clinics using a brief (10 minute) screening questionnaire. This screen measured demographics, tobacco and alcohol (TWEAK problem alcohol use screening measure), and depression measures, including the Center for Epidemiological Studies-Depression scale (CES-D), use of antidepressant medications, past history of depression, and current treatment (i.e., medications, psychotherapy, or counseling) for depression.

Results: Of women screened, 20% (n = 689) scored above the cutoff score on the CES-D, and only 13.8% of those women reported receiving any formal treatment for depression. Past history of depression, poorer overall health, greater alcohol use consequences, smoking, being unmarried, unemployment, and lower educational attainment were significantly associated with symptoms of depression during pregnancy.

Conclusions: These data show that a substantial number of pregnant women screened in obstetrics settings have significant symptoms of depression, and most of them are not being monitored in treatment during this vulnerable time. This information may be used to justify and streamline systematic screening for depression in clinical encounters with pregnant women as a first step in determining which women may require further treatment for their mood symptoms. As elevations in depressive symptomatology have been associated with adverse maternal and infant outcomes, further study of the impact of psychiatric treatment in gravid women is essential.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attitude to Health*
  • Depression / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Mass Screening*
  • Middle Aged
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications / psychology*
  • Prenatal Care* / standards
  • Risk Factors
  • Self Concept
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Substance-Related Disorders / complications
  • Substance-Related Disorders / psychology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United States
  • Women's Health*