In a new commentary in the journal Women’s Health Issues, authors call for more funding to improve diagnosis and treatment of perinatal depression in Latinas and African American women. “Increasing Diagnosis and Treatment of Perinatal Depression in Latinas and African American Women: Addressing Stigma Is Not Enough” notes that rates of diagnosis and treatment for depression during pregnancy and after childbirth are low in Latinas and African American women.
Women’s Health Issues is the official journal of the Jacobs Institute of Women’s Health, which is based in the Department of Health Policy and Management at Milken Institute School of Public Health (Milken Institute SPH) at the George Washington University.
Sandraluz Lara-Cinisomo, of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and co-authors Crystal T. Clark and Jayme Wood explain that stigma around mental health can make it harder to diagnose and treat Latinas and African American women, but addressing this barrier alone is insufficient. They recommend that providers be prepared to ask about somatic symptoms (such as head and stomach pain) as well as mood symptoms, because disclosing somatic issues may be more culturally acceptable. Clinicians who have frequent contact and trusting relationships with patients, such as nurse practitioners, may be well positioned to educate women about perinatal depression, the authors advise, and these clinicians should provide accurate information about affordable and culturally appropriate treatment options for pregnant and postpartum women who screen positive for depression.