Having good mental health can help women have a healthy pregnancy

Today we observe World Mental Health Day. Let’s take this opportunity to bring attention to the mental health issues affecting women in the United States.  

Having good mental health means feeling good emotionally, psychologically and socially. Examples of mental health conditions include depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (also called PTSD) and postpartum depression (also called PPD), among others. All these conditions are common in women of reproductive age (women who can get pregnant). Untreated mental health conditions can affect your health during pregnancy and your baby’s development.

How mental health conditions affect you?

If you have one or more untreated mental health conditions, they may affect many aspects of your life. For example, mental health conditions:

  • Are associated with substance use, including opioids use disorder (addiction to opioids). Opioids are prescription medicines (often medicines to relieve pain.)
  • Increase the risk of having chronic health conditions like diabetes and heart disease. Chronic health conditions need to be treated to reduce the risk of pregnancy complications.
  • Can affect your pregnancy. For example, untreated depression during pregnancy increases your risk for PPD and having a premature baby.
  • Can make it difficult for you to bond with your baby after birth. Developing bonds of love and trust help babies have good social and emotional development.

What is depression?

Depression is a medical condition that causes feelings of sadness and a loss of interest in things you like to do. It can affect how you feel, think and act and can interfere with your daily life. It needs treatment to get better.

Perinatal depression is depression that happens during pregnancy or in the first year after having a baby. It’s one of the most common medical complications of pregnancy. It affects up to 1 in 7 women (about 15 percent). It includes PPD, which is depression that happens after pregnancy.

Who may be at a higher risk for depression?

The following are some risk factors for depression. If you have any of them, talk to your health care provider about how counseling can benefit you.

  • Current signs and symptoms of depression, for example, feelings of sadness that last for more than 2 weeks, among others.
  • A history of depression or other mental health condition
  • Being pregnant as a teenager or being a single mom
  • Having stressful life circumstances, like low income
  • Being a victim of domestic violence (also called intimate partner violence or IPV)

What can you do?

  • Learn about the different types of mental health conditions.
  • If you think you have depression, PPD or any other mental health condition, tell your health care provider right away.
  • If you’re pregnant and taking a medication for a mental health condition, tell your provider right away. Don’t stop taking it without talking to your provider first.

To learn more visit marchofdimes.org