How to Best Cope with Maternal Depression
Maternal depression symptoms can impact the well-being of both women and their families. Research shows that maternal depression affects about one in nine women during pregnancy and up to one year after childbirth. This type of depression has a wide range of symptoms, including:
- Difficulty concentrating
Maternal depression can affect women of all ages and ethnicities. One’s unique biology, hormonal changes, stress, and other factors may make some more susceptible to maternal depression than others.
There are four types of maternal depression:
- Prenatal: Occurs during pregnancy, causing emotional highs and lows that interfere with a woman’s ability to function.
- Baby Blues: Often start in the first few days after childbirth, and may be present for up to two weeks following delivery.
- Postpartum: Refers to baby blues that extend beyond two weeks of childbirth, and persist for up to three months after delivery.
- Postpartum Psychosis: Begins within two to four weeks after childbirth, with symptoms including hallucinations, suicidal thoughts, and other forms of psychosis.
Maternal depression may affect both a woman and her child’s behaviors. In a study of 875 mothers in Chile over a 16-year period, researchers found that half of the study participants were depressed, and one-third were severely depressed. Researchers discovered that children of severely depressed mothers had a lower average verbal IQ score than children without depressed mothers. They also stated that children of severely depressed mothers had a small vocabulary and poor comprehension skills in comparison to children of mothers without depression.
How to Treat Maternal Depression
Maternal depression treatment can benefit both a woman and her child. For example, a study of 80 depressed mothers and their children was used to evaluate the impact of different maternal depression treatment options on both mothers and their children. All of the mothers in the study had been previously diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder, but had no history of Bipolar Disorder or Schizophrenia. Comparatively, approximately one-third of the children in the study had a psychiatric disorder. Study researchers noted that finding the right maternal depression treatment is critical for both a woman and her child, but doing so often requires trial and error. They also indicated that the right maternal depression treatment helps reduce a woman’s depression symptoms and behavioral issues, and frequently helps her child do the same.
There are many options to treat maternal depression, including medications and psychotherapy. Antidepressant medications may help women manage their maternal depression symptoms, and research indicates that certain antidepressants have not been shown to adversely impact breastfeeding infants. Meanwhile, psychotherapy can help a woman explore the thoughts and feelings associated with her maternal depression and find ways to cope with her depression symptoms.
At Achieve Medical Center, we provide comprehensive and compassionate care to women who are experiencing symptoms of maternal depression. Our clinicians understand and respect the unique bond between a mother and child, and take into consideration all the aspects of that relationship when collaborating with patients about a treatment plan. To learn more about our current maternal depression treatment options, please contact us online or call us at (858) 427-5060.