New research has revealed that treatment for depression during pregnancy is often patchy because a lack of training among midwives means that the condition can go undiagnosed.
Perinatal depression is now as prevalent as postnatal depression, but a study by experts at the University of Hull shows that it can be hard to detect because some of the symptoms overlap with pregnancy itself.
Guidelines from the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) provide a clear remit for those working with pregnant women and new mothers on predicting and detecting harmful perinatal mental health.
But the new research shows that midwives need to be adequately trained to take on such a role because they currently rely on acquired knowledge to detect mental health problems.
Lead researcher Dr Julie Jomeen said: "Midwives do not often receive sufficient formal training in antenatal depression and because some of the symptoms overlap with pregnancy, such as tiredness and emotional instability, it can be difficult to detect."
Following the results of the study, a new strategy is now being implemented in Hull to tackle perinatal mental health – including training for midwives – and it is hoped that it could form the blueprint for other UK regions to follow.