Perinatal depression is more than just the "baby blues." We shouldn't wait until mothers are already depressed before taking action and providing treatment.
Why Should We Care?
According to the US Preventative Services Task Force, perinatal depression "affects as many as 1 in 7 women and is one of the most common complications of pregnancy and the postpartum period."
This should be disturbing news to anyone in the midst of or about to experience pregnancy, because perinatal depression is not limited to people with a history of mental illness.
This could affect you.
Risk factors causing an increase of the possibility of getting perinatal depression are: stressful life events, trauma, a history of mental illness, an unwanted pregnancy, or social factors like family support and conflict.
Perinatal depression will manifest differently in each individual, and can produce a variety of symptoms. Pregnant mothers will most likely be tired, listless, and showing decreased energy and motivation for daily tasks. They will have a lowered mood and an unwillingness to engage with the baby after birth, as well as a reduced attention span. Concentration will be affected, and often thoughts of harming themselves or the baby will be present.
If mental well-being isn't part of the conversation, then many of these symptoms could be waived off as a passing abnormality. Anyone experiencing these symptoms should contact their healthcare provider right away.
Now that we've gone through the ways it affects us, and how to recognize it in another, what can we do to stop it? Counseling has long been proven to be the premier consideration in lowering the effects of and preventing perinatal depression. In addition,
yoga & mindfulness
regular diet & exercise
Omega-3 fatty acids,
have all been utilized to show slight improvement in the mental well-being and condition of the pregnant mother. Any of these methods should first be approved and walked through with your primary care physician before implementation.
The most important thing, as always, is just to be open with how you feel and be willing to share those feelings with others. Only then can the journey to recovery begin and growth towards a happier future.
Daily Herald Editorial Board. “Herald Editorial: Utah's Health Care Providers Need to Screen Pregnant Mothers at Risk for Depression.” Daily Herald, Herald Communications, 17 Feb. 2019, www.heraldextra.com/news/opinion/herald-editorials/herald-editorial-utah-s-health-care-providers-need-to-screen/article_3d8acaec-f136-5cb7-be91-83e56f88c247.html.
Galvin, Gabby. “Counseling Could Prevent Perinatal Depression.” U.S. News & World Report, U.S. News & World Report, 2019, www.usnews.com/news/health-news/articles/2019-02-13/counseling-could-prevent-perinatal-depression.
Haller, Sonja. “Depression in Pregnant Women and New Moms Is Preventable, Experts Say. Here's How.” USA Today, Gannett Satellite Information Network, 17 Feb. 2019, www.usatoday.com/story/life/allthemoms/2019/02/17/counseling-can-prevent-postpartum-depression-and-depression-in-pregnancy-study-finds/2869872002/.
US Preventive Services Task Force. “USPSTF Recommendation: Interventions to Prevent Perinatal Depression.” JAMA, American Medical Association, 12 Feb. 2019, jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/2724195.