Depression is a common disabling condition that disproportionately affects women – twice as often as men. About one in four women will experience the most severe form of depression, major depression, during her lifetime. Major depression is even more common and persistent in women from socially disadvantaged backgrounds. Depressive symptoms are common in patients receiving care in Ob-Gyn settings, affecting up to 22% of patients. However, because of competing demands, lack of mental health training and other common barriers, detection and treatment of depression by Ob-Gyn providers occurs less often than in primary care settings.
Depression has a profound effect on a person’s work and social functioning, quality of life, and health care costs. In fact, the World Health Organization found that major depression is the number one cause of disease-related disability in women worldwide. Yet, only half of patients with depression are accurately diagnosed as being depressed in primary care settings and the percentage is even lower for Ob-Gyn providers. And among those diagnosed, only 25-50% receive guideline-based pharmacotherapy and fewer than 10% receive evidence-based psychotherapy.
For many women, and particularly for underserved women, or those from socially disadvantaged backgrounds, their Ob-Gyn provider serves as their primary care provider. And, while Ob-Gyn providers increasingly accept their role as primary care providers, many feel they have inadequate training to screen and treat depression and that they lack adequate resources for follow-up care. Therefore, having a depression intervention based in Ob-Gyn clinics is an important and effective way to meet the health care needs for women.