Understanding Maternal Mental Health
Postpartum depression and anxiety are the number one complication of childbirth. Not caesarean births. Not the use of medical intervention that can lead to problems for moms and babies. The leading cause of childbirth complication relates to maternal mental health.
Does that surprise you? It was once believed that the hormones of pregnancy protected a woman from experiencing mental health challenges. But now we know better. Women are more likely to experience mental health challenges during their reproductive years than at any other time in their lives.
1 in 7 women experience postpartum depression or anxiety following the birth of their baby. May is Mental Health Awareness month and Wednesday, May 6 was World Maternal Mental Health Day. Raising awareness is important as postpartum depression and anxiety rob families of the happiness they had expected to feel.
Some Facts about Maternal Mental Health
Postpartum depression and anxiety is not the baby blues. The baby blues occur during the first two weeks following birth and moments of happiness are interspersed with moments of feeling emotional. The baby blues resolves on its own requiring no specific intervention.
Postpartum depression can often present as a more agitated type of depression with heightened feelings of anger and irritability.
Most women experiencing postpartum depression and anxiety feel OVERWHELMED. And not a little overwhelmed some of the time. They feel overwhelmed all of the time.
You can’t tell by looking if a woman is struggling with postpartum depression or anxiety. Some women go to great lengths to hide how bad they are feeling.
Many women hide their symptoms. They feel shame and at risk of judgement. They suffer in silence.
Let’s break the silence and give women permission to talk about what they are going through.
If you know someone who is pregnant or postpartum, ask them how they are really feeling. Sharing that you know it can be hard is an invitation for more honest sharing.
by Mary Joan Brinson, MSW, RSW
If you are postpartum and feeling depressed or anxious, let others know you are having a hard time. Reach out to a support group, your doctor or a therapist. Help is available. And with good support you will feel better.
We help women recover from postpartum depression and anxiety.