Posted on: Monday, May 13th, 2019
In celebration of Mother’s Day yesterday, we thought it would be appropriate to shine light on the importance of maternal mental health and its issues. Maternal mental health disorders can affect any pregnant woman or woman who has recently given birth, however, women with previous histories of depression or other mental health disorders are at a significantly greater risk. Women from lower socioeconomic statuses, poverty and intercity violent areas are also at a significantly greater risk of being affected by maternal mental health disorders. Postpartum depression affects 10-13% of mothers worldwide, however, it jumps up to 20% for mothers in developing countries.
After giving birth, mothers who suffer from postpartum depression fail to take care of themselves in areas such as eating and bathing. This can increase the risk of becoming sick e.g. with infections due to poor hygiene. Postpartum depression also increases the risk of suicide. Some mothers also suffer from psychotic illnesses which increases the risk of infanticide which is the intentional killing of infants. Mothers suffering from psychosis may at times cause intentional harm brought to the child. Severe mental illnesses can affect the mother-child attachment bond which can have long term social and psychological effects on the child which can follow into adulthood and subsequent relationships. Postpartum depression also affects children because mothers may fail to adequately care for their infant such as feeding them and providing infant care.
However, studies have shown that treatment of postpartum depression leads to improved development of infants and reduces the risks of malnutrition because the mothers are healthy enough to take care of themselves and also their babies. Studies have shown that maternal mental disorders can be effectively treated. Effective treatments can be administered by a range of health providers as well as support groups, counselling and therapy. If you are a mother or know a mother who is affected by a maternal mental health disorder, it is crucial to seek support from a professional who can help you overcome and treat the illness in order to live a happy, healthy life for you and your baby!