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Task force urges doctors to screen new moms for depression

An influential national panel on Tuesday advised physicians to screen women for depression during pregnancy and after giving birth, an initiative that could help the one in seven women who suffer severe symptoms after delivery.

The recommendation, the first time the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force has urged screening for mental illness in mothers, seeks to identify and help women who are experiencing anxiety, sleep disturbances and thoughts of injuring themselves or their babies, among other symptoms.

“If they can start during pregnancy, that’s where we can catch a lot of mood disorders that can be treated before turning into a postpartum episode,” said Alexis Menken, a Montclair psychologist and the New Jersey coordinator for Postpartum Support International.

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