International Maternal Mental Health Week

This week, April 29 to May 5, is International Maternal Mental Health Week. It’s a time to raise our voices and help create awareness about moms and mental health disorders. About 1 in 7 women (about 15 percent) has depression at some time during pregnancy or the year after pregnancy. When depression happens during this period, we call it perinatal depression. It’s one of the most common complications of pregnancy.

Depression is a medical condition that needs treatment to get better. Depression is not your fault. Untreated depression during pregnancy can increase your risk for complications, like premature birth. When depression happens after giving birth (called postpartum depression or PPD), it can make it hard for you to take care of yourself and your baby. If you think you’re depressed, tell your health care provider right away.

What you need to know:

  • Learn the signs and symptoms of depression and postpartum depression.
  • If you think you have depression or PPD, tell your health care provider.
  • If you’ve had depression before, you’re more likely than other women to have depression during pregnancy.
  • If you’re pregnant and taking an antidepressant, tell your provider right away. Don’t stop taking it without talking to your provider first.

Can perinatal depression be prevented?

Two months ago, the U. S. Preventive Services Task Force (also known as USPSTF) made recommendations about ways to help prevent perinatal depression. This is a great step for moms! Preventing depression can help moms and babies have a healthier life.

USPSTF says that women at increased risk of perinatal depression can benefit from certain kinds of counseling (also called therapy) to help prevent it. Counseling is when you talk about your feelings and concerns with a counselor or therapist. This person helps you understand your feelings, solve problems and cope with things in your everyday life.

The USPSTF recommends counseling for women with one or more of these risk factors:

  • Current signs and symptoms of depression
  • 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)

Talk to your provider about getting treatment for depression. Opening up about your feelings may be hard, but it’s an important step in helping you feel better. Mental health affects all aspects of your and your family’s health and well-being.

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