1 in 4 people will experience mental illness.
Motherhood is a vulnerable role for all women, whether or not they readily admit it. However, there are additional and significant challenges that can add to the motherhood experience when mental illness comes into play. Maternal depression and anxiety can affect all ages, races and cultures; these mental illnesses can also affect first time mothers or more experienced moms. In any case, maternal mental illnesses can be treated and supported when moms feel comfortable sharing their feelings or worries.
Types of Maternal Depression
While the condition of postpartum depression is less stigmatized than in decades past, the general American public still has much to learn about the maternal depression experience. Even if you have not had direct experience with maternal depression, chances are high that you have known someone who has. According to the Centers for Disease Control, as many as 1 in 9 women experience depression before, during, or after pregnancy.
Because women experience mental health concerns during and after pregnancy, the general term for these disorders are Perinatal Mood Disorders, according to the Postpartum Depression Alliance of Illinois. Medical professionals often categorize these mood disorders into categories that can include:
- Postpartum ‘blues’, diagnosed by feelings of sadness, prolonged crying, restlessness or anxiety. ‘Baby blues’ are common for up to 80% of new mothers and symptoms typically resolve after a few weeks.
- Postpartum depression or anxiety are feelings that last well past the baby’s first few weeks. As much as 20% of mothers can experience postpartum depression and anxiety into the baby’s first year of life.
- Postpartum post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) affects less than 10% of women, but is a serious mental health condition for mothers who have experienced trauma during the childbirth process.
- Postpartum psychosis is a rare condition that affects less than 1% of new mothers. This mental illness can cause delusions or hallucinations for the new mother.
Maternal depression can affect each mother differently, which can make the condition sometimes difficult to diagnose or treat. However, once a mother is able to tell a medical professional or friend how she feels, treatment is typically effective and can lead to a more positive parenting experience.
If you are a new mom, or supporting a mother, consider if you are noticing any of these possible symptoms of maternal depression:
- Feeling restless or anxious
- Prolonged bouts of crying
- Loss of energy
- Troubles concentrating
- Feeling like running away
- Worrying constantly about the baby or the baby’s health
- Feeling sad all the time
While all new moms can feel some of these symptoms without experiencing maternal depression, any unresolved or ongoing depression should be communicated with a medical professional. If you are looking for a mental health professional in our DuPage County area, check out our resource page to get the support you need.