Understanding prenatal depression

Dr. D. Elizabeth Jesse, professor of graduate nursing science in the College of Nursing and associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology in the Brody School of Medicine, received a three-year, $640,742 National Institute of Mental Health grant to provide support for pregnant women at risk of depression.

According to Jesse, a certified nurse-midwife, each year, up to 50 percent of pregnant women experience depressive symptoms and 13 percent develop antepartum depression, which can mimic typical pregnancy symptoms like mood swings, fatigue and a change in sleep patterns. Up to 50 percent of women suffering from antepartum depression also will have postpartum depression.

Insight-Plus, a culturally tailored intervention, can help expectant mothers build emotional support from family and friends, set goals, reduce stress, increase positive thinking and improve self-esteem. Jesse believes that women will improve by decreasing risks and increasing resources. If successful, the Insight-Plus program will be a care delivery model for public health staff and lay helpers.

The NIH review panel said study findings will be highly relevant for public health because the intervention is integrated within rural prenatal clinics, including the local health department, where access to mental health resources for treating and preventing antepartum depression is limited.