Maternal Mental Health: Importance, Symptoms, and Treatment | CNN Health Expert Dr. Leana Wen

2024-05-04 12:44:45

Dubai, United Arab Emirates (CNN) – In many countries, one in five new mothers suffer from Mood disorder Or anxiety. Unfortunately, these conditions often go undiagnosed and untreated due to lack of awareness and stigma.

On the occasion of the International Day ofMental Health For mothers, it is time to recognize the importance of maternal mental health.

How do you know if you or a family member might need help? What types of treatments are available? What can mothers do, whether pregnant or postpartum, and how can the community around them support them?

CNN health expert Dr. Leana Wen answers these questions.

Wen works as an emergency physician and assistant professor at George Washington University in the United States.

CNN: Why is it so important to address maternal mental health?

Dr. Lena Wen: Mental health is an essential part of overall health. Mental health itself affects health and has a significant impact on the physical health of the woman and her child.

Pregnant women with untreated mental health problems have a higher rate of loss of prenatal care and are more likely to develop depression, anxiety, psychosis and other mental health problems after giving birth.

Untreated mental health problems are also linked to premature birth, low birth weight, baby sleeping and feeding problems, and developmental and cognitive problems.

Unfortunately, in the United States, mental health disorders are the underlying cause of many deaths occurring during and after pregnancy.

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 22.7% of pregnancy-related deaths were linked to a mental health problem – even more than bleeding (13.7%) or infection (9, 2%).

This is a crisis and we still have much to do to fix it

CNN: How common are maternal mental health issues?

Wayne: 10% of pregnant women and 13% of postpartum women suffer from a mental health problem, the most common being depression, according to the World Health Organization.

In developed countries, including the United States, these figures rise to more than 15% during pregnancy and 19.8% after birth.

The figures for lack of treatment are equally worrying. Some studies indicate that less than 15% of women with these conditions receive treatment.

Imagine if we were talking about any other serious medical condition like diabetes or heart patients. We would not find these figures acceptable, nor should we for the treatment of mental health problems.

CNN: Many postpartum women suffer from “baby blues.” How to differentiate this condition from postpartum depression?

Wayne: The baby blues are a symptom that most women experience after giving birth. These include mood swings, feeling exhausted, angry, and difficulty sleeping.

Baby blues usually occur shortly after giving birth and last for several days. The person suffers from some symptoms of low mood, but generally feels well.

Baby blues are completely different from postpartum depression. Symptoms of postpartum depression may initially resemble those of the baby blues, but they are more severe and last longer – for at least two weeks and possibly several months.

Specific symptoms include persistent depressed mood, tearfulness, extreme fatigue, extreme irritability, and anger.

The woman may become isolated from family and friends, less interested in activities she previously enjoyed, and even have difficulty bonding with or caring for the baby. She may feel hopeless, worthless, and ashamed of not being a good mother.

The condition can develop in the mother who experiences severe anxiety, panic attacks and thoughts of harming herself, her children or other people around her.

CNN: Are there any other mental health issues after giving birth?

Wayne: Yes. Postpartum depression is the most common mental health problem, but there are others.

Another condition that can occur alone or with postpartum depression is postpartum anxiety.

It’s normal to feel anxious after having a baby, but it becomes a problem when feelings of anxiety spiral out of control and take over our thoughts.

People with this condition experience all-consuming anxiety, including irrational fears about events that are unlikely to occur.

Other mental health problems, such as obsessive-compulsive disorder, may appear during the postpartum period.

There is another disease, postpartum psychosis, which is the most severe form of psychological disorders after childbirth, and it is rare, as it occurs in about 1-2 out of every thousand women in the postpartum period.

The woman may become erratic and oscillate between depression and elation, and she may suffer from hallucinations and delusions. This is a psychological emergency that requires immediate care to prevent the woman from harming herself, her child or others.

CNN: What types of treatments are available?

Wayne: There are a variety of effective treatments to treat postpartum depression and other mental health disorders.

There are two types of treatments: oral treatments and medications.

Psychotherapy involves talking about your concerns with a mental health professional. There are different types of psychological treatments, such as cognitive behavioral therapy.

Overall, this helps patients better recognize and manage their feelings.

Health care providers may also prescribe antidepressant medications.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved two medications to specifically treat postpartum depression.

These medications are used for shorter periods of time than antidepressants and may be a good option for some women, although insurance coverage and cost may be a barrier.

As with any other medical condition, some women may respond better to one form of treatment than others. Some may need a combination of treatments. The duration of treatment also depends on individual circumstances.

CNN: What can pregnant and postpartum women do? How can those around you help improve your mental health?

Wayne: Good health during and after pregnancy begins well before conception and delivery.

It is important for women to seek help for mental health issues.

Women with pre-existing mental health conditions such as depression and bipolar disorder have a much higher rate of mental health problems during the postpartum period, and it is important to diagnose and treat these problems before pregnancy.

There should be no stigma associated with being diagnosed with a mental health condition.

Those close to the individual can help by looking for signs of postpartum depression. They can provide support, for example by encouraging treatment and providing childcare and other help that the mother may need.

Everyone should remember that prompt treatment is effective and crucial for the well-being of the woman and her family.

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