Do You Know, Really Know, Dr. Wisner's Work?

By Joy Burkhard, MBA


Each year we kick off our work with our annual Forum. 

This year, Friday, February 9, we are bringing THE biggest name in maternal mental health to the stage to inspire you, educate you, and help the field refine our focus through our Policy in Action table conversations.

Katherine Wisner, MS, MD

Katherine Wisner, MS, MD

Many of us know Dr. Wisner and her broad-reaching research published in 2013 in the Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA).  Following is an overview of the study and what she discovered:

10,000 mothers were screened using the EPDS
14% screened positive (a score of 10 or higher). 
The screen-positive women were more likely to be: 
African American, 
publicly insured, 
and less well educated

Symptom Onset: 

The study illustrated that symptom onset can occur:
Prior to Pregnancy (26.5%)
In the Postpartum Period (40.1%) 
Or During Pregnancy (33.4%) 


Of the 14% who screened positive, the most common primary diagnoses were depressive disorders (68.5%) with the most common diagnosis being major depressive disorder. 

Almost two-thirds of those with a depressive disorder had coexisting anxiety disorders. And a striking 22.6% had bipolar disorders.


Dr. Wisner is not only actively advocating for treatment build up and screening using the EPDS but also notes the need to develop strategies to differentiate women with bipolar disorder from unipolar depression given the potential harm of treating bipolar disorders with antidepressants without a mood stabilizer. 

February 9

On February 9, Dr. Wisner will discuss the study further, including:

1. The climbing prevalence of both bipolar disorders and anxiety disorders in teens. 

2. What tools and cut off scores should be used when diagnosing anxiety and bi-polar disorders prior to and during the perinatal period.

3. African American mothers and their higher incidence of depression and potentially dysthymia (low mood lasting for two years or more).

If you have a question you would like Dr. Wisner to address during the forum, leave your question below.

Want to be a part of the event?  Join us in person or register for a group webcast here.