Whilst motherhood and starting a family can be an exciting time, it can also be stressful which can lead to many parents experiencing mental health issues. Perinatal mental health issues refer to any mental health concerns that arise during pregnancy or up to a year after delivery. These issues can include depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder. It has been found that around 1 in 5 women will experience mental health problems during or after their pregnancy however, 70% will hide or underplay the severity of the feelings they experience.
Prevalence of Perinatal Mental Health Issues
Depression is the most common perinatal mental health issue, affecting 10-15% of pregnant women and up to 20% of women in the first year after delivery. Anxiety is also a common concern, affecting 10% of pregnant women and up to 13% of women in the first year after delivery.
Other perinatal mental health issues, such as obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), are less common but still affect a significant number of women. OCD affects 2-3% of pregnant women, while PTSD affects around 3% of women who have given birth. Women may also experience postpartum psychosis where feelings of psychosis, depression and mania are experienced after childbirth. Delusions and hallucinations are also parts of the psychosis which may be experienced.
The Impact of Perinatal Mental Health Issues on Women
Perinatal mental health issues can have a significant impact on women. Depression and anxiety can interfere with a woman’s ability to enjoy her pregnancy and bond with her baby. Women with depression may feel sad, hopeless, and irritable, while women with anxiety may feel constantly worried and on edge.
Perinatal mental health issues can also interfere with a woman’s ability to care for herself and her baby. Women with depression or anxiety may struggle to eat well, get enough sleep, or engage in regular exercise. They may also have difficulty breastfeeding or engaging in other aspects of childcare.
Untreated perinatal mental health issues can also lead to long-term consequences, including a higher risk of future mental health concerns for both mother and child. Studies have shown that women with perinatal mental health issues are at a higher risk of developing depression or anxiety in the future, while children of women with perinatal mental health issues are at a higher risk of developing behavioural or emotional problems.
The Impact of Perinatal Mental Health Issues on Relationships
Perinatal mental health issues can also have a significant impact on relationships. Women with perinatal mental health issues may struggle to communicate with their partner or may feel unsupported. This can lead to relationship difficulties and can make it even more challenging for women to manage their mental health concerns.
Perinatal mental health issues can also impact a woman’s relationship with her baby. Women with depression or anxiety may have difficulty bonding with their baby or may feel disconnected from the experience of motherhood. This can lead to feelings of guilt and shame and can make it even more challenging for women to seek support.
The Importance of Seeking Support for Perinatal Mental Health Issues
Seeking support for perinatal mental health issues is critical for ensuring the best possible outcomes for both mother and child. Mental health professionals can provide support and guidance to help women manage their symptoms and develop coping strategies.
Useful contacts for postnatal depression and perinatal mental health:
- Action on Postpartum Psychosis (APP): app-network.org
- Anxiety UK: anxietyuk.org.uk
- The Association for Post Natal Illness: apni.org
- Birth Trauma Association: birthtraumaassociation.org.uk
- The Breastfeeding Network: breastfeedingnetwork.org.uk
If you would like to enquire about mental health care at Cardinal Clinic, you can call us on 01753 869755. Alternatively, if you wish to refer yourself for mental health care, you can complete our self referral form.
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