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  • Writer's pictureEmmily Weldon

Maternal Mental Health


May is Maternal Mental Health Month which is observed every year. It gives importance to and raises awareness to every mother’s mental health during and after pregnancy.


Maternal mental health disorders can include depression, anxiety, and psychosis. Maternal mental health issues can occur during pregnancy and/or the postpartum period. If these issues are left untreated it can cause consequences that are devastating for the mother, the baby, other family members, and even larger society. Mental health concerns can be due to a combination of biological, psychological, and social stressors, such as a lack of support, family history, and/or previous experience with these disorders.


Maternal anxiety and depression impact 1 in 5 women, yet they are not universally screened for or treated (Hildingsson et al., 2021).


Nearly 80% of women will experience the “baby blues” after giving birth which can be tied to a sudden shift in hormones. Women who report the baby blues experience sadness, mood swings, and episodes of crying. Baby blues are not a disorder because they typically resolve within a few days. However, if symptoms appear to persist longer than two weeks the mother may be suffering from depression (March of Dimes, 2021).


Up to 20% of women experience clinical depression during or after pregnancy. Often times, the symptoms can range from mild to severe and mothers that experience depression prior to pregnancy are at a higher risk for postpartum depression. Along with symptoms similar to baby blues, symptoms also include trouble concentrating, trouble finding joy in activities, and struggles to bond with the baby.


Up to 15% of women will develop anxiety during pregnancy or after childbirth. Symptoms can include restlessness, racing heartbeat, difficulty sleeping, extreme worry especially around uncertainty and the future or worry about being a good parent (CDC, 2022).


Postpartum PTSD is a result of real or perceived trauma during the delivery or postpartum period. This causes intrusive memories and flashbacks.


All women can develop mental disorders during pregnancy and/or within the first year after delivery. However, issues like poverty, migration, extreme stress, exposure to violence, emergency or conflict situations, natural disasters, and low social support can greatly change the likelihood of mental disorders developing.


There are some things that can help reduce depression and anxiety and even ways to prevent maternal mental health disorders. Medications are an option to explore with a psychiatrist. There are also psychotherapies that have shown to be effective in treatment of maternal mental health disorders. In therapy, you can find healthy ways to cope with feelings, set realistic goals, manage irrational thoughts, and change your responses to situations. Some examples of therapies that have been shown to be effective include Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and interpersonal psychotherapy.


No matter what it is helpful to have people that you can trust to support and help you. If you find it difficult to open up to others around you or if you need an outside perspective, it may be time to reach out for therapy.


If you are searching for a therapist or counselor you can learn more about tips to starting therapy here or use a directory service where you can narrow your search based on types of therapy, insurance, location, etc.. therapy directories to get started can include https://www.therapyden.com/ or mental health match.


If you are interested in connecting directly with Mindful Solutions you can reach out via email (mindfulsolutions@itherapymail.com), phone (619-353-5139), or book your free 30 minute consultation on our website!


*Although I am a therapist by profession, I am not YOUR therapist. This article is for informational and educational purposes only, does not replace therapy and does not establish any kind of therapist-client relationship with me. I am not liable or responsible for any damages resulting from or related to your use of this information. To see more information about our disclamer(s): https://www.mindfulsolutionscorp.com/disclaimers




Additional Maternal Mental Health Resources:


References:

Hildingsson I, Nilsson J, Merio E, Larsson B. Anxiety and depressive symptoms in women with fear of birth: A longitudinal cohort study. Eur J Midwifery. 2021 Aug 2 5:32. doi: 10.18332/ejm/138941. PMID: 34396062; PMCID: PMC8328228.

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