Dr. Curtis Lowery says mental illness and physical illness are intertwined.
The U.S. Preventative Services Task Force issued a recommendation today that doctors screen all adults, including pregnant and post-partum women, for depression
and that such screening should be covered by the Affordable Care Act.
An article in the New York Times today
focused on the task force's recommendations for pregnant and post-partum women. The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences
has been doing such screening of its obstetrical patients for "five or six years," Dr. Curtis Lowery
, chair of UAMS' Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, said today. UAMS devotes an entire floor of its Psychiatric Research Institute
to women patients.
UAMS also now screens all primary care patients for depression, Lowery said.
Lowery said one in 10 women suffer post-partum depression, and one in 9 suffer depression while pregnant, so that screening is essential to protect mothers and their infants and children. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
issued a recommendation last May that women be screened for depression both pre- and post-partum. It had recommended post-partum screens in 2009. The Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale
is commonly used.
Though ACOG and other physicians' associations have already recommended depression screenings, Lowery said the task force's advice that such care should be covered by insurance should mean that more people will be able to get the help they need.
"People separate physical disease from mental, and they are both diseases and both have huge harm to society," Lowery said. "Often mental disease is associated with developing a physical disease and vice versa. You can't separate mind and body; it's more apparent that these two things are intertwined with one another."
UAMS also screens pregnant women for drug use and domestic violence.