Perinatal Depressive Disorders
Feeling Blue Before and After Baby Comes?
Motherhood is often glorified as a time of happiness and fulfillment, but for a significant proportion of women, their experience is clouded by less rosy emotions which they experience throughout the nine months, and even after the baby is born. Perinatal depressive disorders are common and can have significant impact on the pregnancy and well-being of both mother and baby.
A Common Condition
Perinatal disorder is a range of mood disorders that can affect a woman during and after pregnancy, between 15 and 20 percent of all women experience some form of perinatal depression. A common perinatal depressive disorder is postpartum depression, which can affect as many as two in 10 women following childbirth. Its cause is usually genetically-linked or can be due to other factors such as difficult social circumstances, pervasive stress or poor social support. The most common symptoms include feeling overwhelmed, irritability, feeling weepy and crying. Fortunately, these symptoms usually resolve within two weeks of delivery. Whilst women benefit from a supportive and understanding environment, professional help is often required to manage baby blues.
The Telltale Signs
Symptoms of perinatal depression may include feelings of sadness, emptiness or a feeling of detached emotions, difficulty in experiencing pleasure, decreased sense of enjoyment, decreased motivation, a sense of guilt or loss of hope. Some women report poor concentration and slowed thinking. A small minority of women may also experience suicidal or infanticidal thoughts. Women who suffer from depression during their pregnancy have an increased risk of obstetric complications, including premature labour. Postnatal depression is associated with disturbances in bonding and attachment, which can have negative effects on the child's development.
How To Deal
Perinatal disorder is treatable and there are a few treatment options available. A woman who suspects that she may be experiencing symptoms of perinatal depression during or after her pregnancy should seek professional help or consult a doctor early. During the consultation, doctors would typically ask about any history of mood disorders or family history of perinatal depression.
Two common types of treatment are psychotherapy and medication. The type of treatment will depend on the severity of the depression. Whilst medication is used cautiously in pregnant and breastfeeding women, the risks of untreated depression are always weighed against the risks of medication. The earlier treatment is initiated, the better the prognosis. The spouse and family members of the mother experiencing perinatal depression can also provide valuable support by making themselves available to listen, understand and provide practical support. As for the mother herself, parenting classes also provide valuable information on coping strategies, apart from seeking professional help.