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World Maternal Mental Health Day: Let’s take care of our mothers

No culture ignores the fact that depression exists. Depression is a kind of mental illness that can haunt anyone irrespective of gender, age or any kind of economic affiliations.

The fact that anyone including women can suffer from mental health problems during pregnancy or in the first year post-delivery needs to be understood and considered while designing strategies to promote mental health wellness among people. In addition, women who have had been affected by mental disorders in the past are more prone to relapse during pregnancy, especially, if they have been callous in taking their medicines.

While motherhood is a joyful phase for most women, visible and subtle changes in life during pregnancy can make many women increasingly susceptible to psychological distress. Though depression and anxiety during pregnancy are common, the most prevalent mental illnesses post pregnancy may include postpartum depression (PPD), anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, bipolar disorder and post-partum psychosis.

United States observes the World Maternal Mental Health Day (WMMHD) on May 3 every year in a bid to raise awareness about maternal mental health among its people. Events conducted and social media posts shared on this day draw the necessary attention to health concerns for mothers that people often ignore.

Maternal mental health matters

Hundreds of women commit suicide during pregnancy or in the year after giving birth. As the U.S. does not include deaths of women during pregnancy or in the first year post-partum as pregnancy-related deaths, not many details are available that can explain how suicide ranks among the reasons behind maternal deaths. Reports of maternal mortality from states including Colorado cite suicide as the third leading cause of maternal deaths up to one year after delivery.

This redirects the focus of federal agencies to issues surrounding mental disorders resulting in suicides among expectant women and mothers. Despite awareness programs being regularly held and celebrities coming out in the open sharing how their psychological problems had caused their lives to derail, not many people are aware of prenatal and postnatal mental health concepts. Mood and anxiety disorders affect both pregnant and post-partum women. Upping of anxiety problems has also resulted in increased likelihood of such women being dependent on opioids or other illicit substances that they believe would help alleviate their anxiety symptoms.

In the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) titled “Trends in Postpartum Depressive Symptoms — 27 States, 2004, 2008, and 2012,” reveals how one among nine American women report being affected by PPD. The report published by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), also shares probable risk factors including depression during pregnancy, lack of available social support, difficult experiences during pregnancy and traumatic birth experiences among many others.

Experts attribute the prevalence of both episodes of depression among pregnant women and postpartum depression to the fact that most women remain undiagnosed and consequently untreated for their conditions. Rising number of depression cases coupled with the proclivity to abuse substances underline the need for compulsory screening in primary care. Diagnosis of comorbidity of mental illnesses and substance abuse can go a long way in preventing the number of suicides by women during and after pregnancy.

Choosing a recovery option

When a child is born, a mother is born too. Motherhood is a dream that unfortunately gets shattered by the cries of depression that are often unheard. It is necessary to initiate measures that encourage mothers to speak about how they feel. Raising awareness about mental health issues surrounding mothers is important so that more mothers may avail treatment. The vicious cycle of mental illness not only affects the quality of life of a woman but may also result in prolonged physiological, cognitive and emotional damage to the fetus or child.

A mental disorder can trigger tendencies to misuse addictive substances including alcohol and other illicit substances which may result in debilitating co-occurring disorders. In addition, pregnant women recovering from their addiction problems, or still dependent on any kind of substances including opioids, are more vulnerable to the changes surrounding pregnancy, which could result in mental illnesses. This necessitates the need for clinicians to ask mothers about potential existing addictive habits along with the kind of emotional upheaval they might be going through.

It is best to recommend such patients to dual diagnosis rehab centers to ensure complete and effective recovery. For more information about dual diagnosis treatment centers in Texas, call our 24/7 helpline number or chat with our online representatives.

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