Postpartum Depression: The Challenges
To new parents, the excitement of a new baby can offer the promise of fulfillment in life.
We expect pregnancy and new parenthood to be filled with wonderment, hope, and anticipation. But these are also times when women are vulnerable to depression.
Depression in the perinatal period is a major public health problem affecting 10-15% of all women and up to 28% of women living in poverty. Unfortunately, depression is often undiagnosed and untreated, leaving a woman and her family to suffer.
Attempts to identify women suffering from depression by sight alone are ineffective—You can’t tell by lookingTM. The ability to recognize depression is further complicated by the fact that stigma associated with mental illness can make it difficult to talk about depression or seek help. In addition, women may not recognize that what they are experiencing is depression—they may think that their emotions are part of normal pregnancy and parenthood.
Depression can have a significant effect on how women care for themselves and how they relate to their infants after birth. Research also shows that maternal depression can adversely affect infant attachment and cognitive, emotional, and behavioral development.
Did you know?
The chronicity, rather than severity, of maternal depression has greater long-term effects on infants and young children.