Changes around and after pregnancy could render women more vulnerable to certain mental illnesses, impacting their ability to function and thrive. Moreover, such mental health issues could affect the fetus or child adversely, with long-term physical and cognitive outcomes. Pregnancy is often regarded as one of the happiest phases of a woman’s life but for several mothers-to-be or new mothers, the nine months of child-bearing or the subsequent twelve months of child-rearing may mean a time of confusion, mood swings, stress and depression.
Although California has achieved remarkable progress in lowering maternal mortality rates, much more needs to be done when it comes to the mental health of new mothers. According to the California Health Care Foundation (CHCF), in 2013 alone, 20 percent of California women giving birth experienced symptoms of either prenatal or postpartum depression. Therefore, it is not a matter of astonishment that pregnant women are also not spared from such a mental health ailment.
Studies show that depression during pregnancy, or antepartum depression, is a mood disorder just like clinical depression involving hormonal changes, which make alterations in brain chemistry. Such alterations are further exacerbated by the ups and downs of life, which is the major cause of depression and other mental health disorders in pregnant women. Unfortunately, depression is often neglected during pregnancy because it is mistaken as yet another type of hormonal imbalance.
Being the largest state in the United States by population, California witnesses one in every eight births nationwide. Recently, the California Task Force on the Status of Maternal Mental Health Care released its report, recapitulating the gaps in treatment statewide, recommending effective strategies to fill the gaps and devising a framework to coordinate stakeholder responsibilities. In the wake of the World Maternal Mental Health Day (WMMHD) being observed this year on May 3, authorities and health care providers can use the findings of the recent report to address the barriers preventing women from accessing maternal mental health care facilities in the state.
Bearing in mind the limited capacity and support to screen women for maternal mental health ailments, the California Task Force has declared obstetricians and gynecologists as the to-go primary point of contact for screening, detection and treatment of maternal mental health disorders. Additionally, it believes that all clinicians dealing with such women should be competent to detect the presence of such mental health problems. The report also presses health insurance companies to integrate mental health into their own medical provider and benefit contracts.
Causes of mental disorders in pregnant women and new mothers
Mood swings, anxiety or depression begin to manifest over a period of time in multiple ways and the symptoms can differ widely in women. Some common manifestations reported in pregnant women are substantial changes in eating habits and sleeping patterns, feelings of despair or dejection, lack of interest in daily activities and hobbies, low self-worth and tendency to cry without a valid reason. Women need to be made aware of the fact that if neglected, even mild mood swings could lead to full-blown depression causing miscarriage or pre-term labor. Those who experience such symptoms must seek professional help. It is important to note that mental health issues are not something to be ashamed about and will not reduce one’s abilities as a mother or love for the child. Some of the possible factors responsible for triggering mental health problems in such women are:
- Troubled marital relationships
- Effects of fertility treatments
- Background or personal history of depression
- Prior experience of miscarriage
- Past stress or trauma
- Painful experience of abuse
- Complications during pregnancy
In the absence of timely intervention, mental health disorders can cause severe damage to both the mother and the child. Babies born to mothers battling mental ailments may exhibit slowed activity and reduced attention span, including agitation. Prolonged mood disorders during pregnancy can often cause significant dietary deficiencies, addiction to alcohol and tobacco, and suicidal tendencies in women. Whereas, the babies of such women are highly susceptible to premature birth, low birth weight and developmental problems in their lives later.
Sovereign Health can help
Dealing with different types of mental disorders and understanding what causes mental illness during and post pregnancy can be a daunting task requiring a sensitive approach to ensure that the women who seek professional help do not harm the unborn child in any way. Many such women experiencing mood swings, anxiety or depression during such a vulnerable phase tend to assume that antidepressant medications are the only solution. But very few know that other alternate therapies for mental health such as exercise, acupuncture, psychotherapy and membership of support groups also go a long way in combating afflictions of the mind.
Above all, an early mental health diagnosis from a reputed and professional mental health services provider is essential to nip the problem in the bud or else they can be immensely devastating. Do not let them grow to an extent where there is no scope for recovery. Sovereign Health is one of the leading mental health institutions in the U.S., which provide mental health treatment services for all kinds of psychiatric disorders. We also provide up-to-date mental health information for a list of mental health disorders treated at our centers spread across the country.
Despite the availability of several effective mental illness treatment options, the stigma of being branded as a weak person prevents many women from overcoming psychiatric disorders through professional help. However, the help and support of family members go a long way in reducing the stigma associated with the illness.
Sovereign Health of San Clemente, California offers a variety of customized mental health treatment programs suited to treat the person holistically. Patients can opt for individual and group psychotherapy, or alternative therapeutic activities to regain control of their lives. Whether you wish to know how to overcome mental illness or are looking for mental health treatment centers in California or at a place closer home, we have facilities in all major places in the country. Our residential mental health treatment facilities in California are among the best in the nation. Call at our 24/7 helpline number or chat online to know about the most effective recovery programs to treat them at the earliest.