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Briefings > Depression and Pregnancy

Undiagnosed and Undertreated:
Depression During and After Pregnancy
Breakfast Seminar

Jointly sponsored by the Jacobs Institute of Women's Health
and the Congressional Caucus for Women's Issues

Continuing a commitment to highlight emerging issues in women’s health, the Jacobs Institute of Women’s Health joined with the Congressional Caucus for Women’s Issues to sponsor a breakfast seminar on depression and pregnancy. The seminar, held on October 9, 2002 at the Dirksen Senate Office Building, featured a discussion among national experts on depression during and after pregnancy, and highlighted recommendations for screening and treatment of pregnant and postpartum women.

The seminar featured:

  • Diana Dell, MD, professor of psychiatry and obstetrics and gynecology at Duke University Medical Center
  • Katherine Wisner, MD, MS, professor of psychiatry, obstetrics, gynecology, and pediatrics and director of Women’s Behavioral HealthCARE at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and
  • Sandra Kweder, MD, deputy director of the FDA’s Office of New Drugs and co-chair of the agency’s Pregnancy Labeling Task Force

While for many women pregnancy is a time of well being, some women experience distress, sleeplessness, and feelings of hopelessness or inadequacy. These symptoms can occur at any stage of a woman’s life but are especially devastating during pregnancy and the postpartum period.

Major depression is a leading cause of disability that affects up to 10% of women during pregnancy and in the months following childbirth. Unfortunately, depression during pregnancy and the postpartum period often goes undiagnosed and undertreated.

Even when diagnosed, certain treatment options, such as prescription drugs, often pose a conundrum for women and providers. Many women require prescription medication during pregnancy for the treatment of depression. At the same time, most women and their providers seek to avoid the use of medication in pregnancy to protect the developing fetus from any potential adverse effects. Unfortunately, little data or research exists to help providers and women assess the risk and benefits of the vast majority of pharmacological treatments.

Read the press release.

Speakers:   Representative Juanita Millender-McDonald, Co-Chair, Congressional Caucus for Women’s Issues; Representative Judy Biggert, Co-Chair, Congressional Caucus for Women’s Issues; Diana Dell, MD, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Health; Assistant Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Duke University Medical Center; Katherine Wisner, MD, MS, Professor of Psychiatry, Obstetrics, Gynecology and Pediatrics; Director, Women’s Behavioral HealthCARE, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center;  Sandra Kweder, MD, Deputy Director, Office of New Drugs, Food and Drug Administration

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