Why treat postpartum depression?
For one thing, untreated depression can lead to long-term, chronic major depression. As reported on the US News & World Report website, the February issue of Psychiatric Services published a study found that four years after being seen for mild depression symptoms by their physicians and screening positive for depression, 62% of those who did not go on to receive treatment ended up with major depression.
“These findings come in the wake of intensive focus by the media on a study reported in January which showed that depressed patients with mild symptoms did not do any better with medication than with placebo, suggesting that patients with mild depression don’t need treatment,” the study’s lead author, Myrna M. Weissman, a Columbia University profession, said in a new release from the American Psychiatric Association. “Of course, patients in a clinical trial are receiving a considerable amount of attention and are not untreated.”
“Our findings suggest that mildly depressed, untreated patients do not have a benign course of illness,” she said.”
When they refer to treatment in this case, it’s my understanding they mean either medication or therapy.
Does this mean every single person who feels bad or has a rough time needs medication or therapy? Of course not. But perhaps physicians need to consider more carefully whether someone does need treatment for PPD and patients need to know they shouldn’t ignore their symptoms.
For more on this and how it relates to postpartum depression, read, Don’t Let the Term ‘Baby Blues’ or ‘Mild Postpartum Depression’ Fool You.