Researchers Seeks Community’s Help In Finding Solutions For Maternal Depression

Up to 20 percent of women experience perinatal depression, which occurs during pregnancy or after giving birth.

Karen Tabb is a social work professor at the University of Illinois who studies factors that put women at risk of perinatal depression, which is associated with worse outcomes for both mom and baby.

“We want to know why is it that women of color – racial and ethnic minority women – are more likely to experience depressive symptoms, but less likely to have a diagnosis of depression,” Tabb said.

Much of Tabb’s work has focused on women who have thoughts of suicide and self-harm.

“My heart hurts every time I turn on the news, and I see another woman has ended here life and taken the life of her children as well,” Tabb said. “It seems that it happens with a great frequency, but this is something that we’re not discussing.”

Tabb is leads the IDEA Women’s Health Coalition, along with U of I education policy professor David Huang, and the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District’s Brandon Meline. The coalition is working to raise awareness about the issue of perinatal depression.

The coalition has recruited help from patients who are pregnant or have just had a child, and their healthcare providers. An advisory board comprised of 15 people will work with researchers to help design future studies geared toward finding effective treatments for maternal depression.

“We need to make sure that enough women are getting the help that they need early on and that they receive follow-up for referral and treatment,” she said.

The coalition is hosting a workshop this week to bring together experts on maternal depression from across the globe to inform future research studies. Tabb hopes to receive additional funding for from the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute to pursue those studies.

Story from Illinois Public Media News- WILL (Christine Herman)

Hear the full interview with Karen Tabb on SoundCloud