What You Need to Know About Perinatal Depression

Perinatal depression is a mood disorder that develops during the perinatal period, which includes pregnancy and the first year after birth, according to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH).

The perinatal period includes everything before, during, and after pregnancy. This period also includes conception. Perinatal depression is the umbrella term for postpartum depression.

According to a review published in the Cleveland Clinic Journal of Medicine (CCJM) in 2020, perinatal depression affects up to 20% of pregnant people in the United States during pregnancy, the postpartum period, or both.

The condition can affect both children and mothers: Untreated perinatal depression has been linked to the baby's impaired cognitive, social, and emotional development, as well as low birth weight.

Past Perinatal Depression Increases Future Risk

According to experts, having previously been diagnosed with perinatal depression increases your chances of experiencing it again during a subsequent pregnancy. In addition, previous anxiety, depression, or perinatal depression raises the risk. It does not guarantee that you will develop perinatal depression, but there is an increased risk.

Researchers aren't sure why this is the case. However, a woman's stress level and hormones may play a role.

According to research, if you've previously experienced postpartum depression, your chances of experiencing it again after a subsequent pregnancy are higher. Following an initial diagnosis, patients are at a higher risk of recurring postpartum depression.

Perinatal depression is defined as a woman's condition that lasts more than 14 days and impairs a woman's quality of life.

You should consult your doctor if you experience these symptoms during your pregnancy.

A woman should seek help from a healthcare provider or a family member for any unusual symptoms she experiences during her pregnancy. No woman should suffer alone.

If you notice that you are not yourself, are very distressed, or are functionally impaired, you must speak up.

Calling your ob-gyn or visiting primary care clinic is a good place to start. Another option is to request a referral to an expert from your health insurance provider.

If you experience certain perinatal depression symptoms, you should seek help immediately. Likewise, with thoughts of hurting yourself or your baby, death, or suicide, you should seek help immediately—call 911, go to the ER, or call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline.

Perinatal mood disorders are not uncommon. Therefore, women should be told right away that if they experience this, they should seek help right away.

Treatment Options for Perinatal Depression

According to the NIMH, numerous treatment options are available, including therapy, medications, or a combination of the two.

To treat perinatal depression, two types of psychotherapy are used: cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and interpersonal therapy (IPT). CBT teaches patients new ways to think, behave, and respond to situations. IPT assists patients in improving their interpersonal communication skills, developing social support networks, and setting realistic expectations that allow them to deal with crises or other issues that impact depression.

According to the NIMH, antidepressants are also commonly used to treat perinatal depression patients. These may improve how the brain employs certain chemicals that regulate mood and stress. Antidepressants, on the other hand, can take six to eight weeks to work.

The best treatment for each individual is completely unique. However, there is always room for therapy, which can then be supplemented with medication if the depression is severe.

However, structural changes are required to support pregnant women during the perinatal period better. Doctors don't do a good enough job of assisting women during maternity leave. On social media, there is also far too much shaming of women.

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