Being HIV positive and low income are two evident risk factors for depression, but it appears the Medicaid system in the United States somehow missed this potential mental health concern. Currently there are no screening systems in place to test HIV-positive women with Medicaid health coverage for depression and that oversight could be bigger than the government thinks. According to Rajesh Balkrishnan, more than 25-percent of pregnant women with HIV on Medicaid suffer from depression; this number is far smaller than the actual number of women suffering from depression because it is based on the number of women being treated for depression and does not account for the unreported and untreated cased.
The study included about 650 participants. Of these participants, 431 were African-American and 219 were white. About 20% of the African-Americans and 43% of white women suffered from depression. The number of African-American women suffering from depression may be higher because about two times as many African-American women are covered by Medicaid compared to white women. Achieving an accurate estimation is extremely difficult as proven in previous studies. African-American women are less likely to seek treatment or even admit they have an issue with depression. There is also a greater chance that African-American women are not taken as seriously when they do report depressive feelings, according to the study authors.
Depression is just the start of problems for some pregnant women. Suffering from depression can lead to other health issues and poor lifestyle choices as a means of self-medication. Women who suffer from untreated depression are more like to suffer from substance abuse or commit suicide than peers who seek medical attention and treatment for the condition.
While researchers did not address the topic of postpartum depression – it is an important topic that is closely related to depression during pregnancy. If a woman is suffering from depression during pregnancy, postpartum depression may worsen symptoms. There is no shame in seeking attention and help for depression. The condition is more common than many pregnant women know so screening and education is necessary for proper depression care in the pregnant community.
Source: Researchers at the University of Michigan. Health Outcomes Research in Medicine. June 14, 2012.