Experts Alert: Hundreds of Thousands Affected Annually by Perinatal Mental Health Disorders

While postpartum depression is widely recognized, health experts are drawing attention to other mental health conditions that can arise during the perinatal period, spanning from conception to a year after childbirth.

According to Dr. Shikha Jain, founder of the nonprofit “Women in Medicine,” perinatal mental health disorders can range from the baby blues to clinical depression, with some individuals exhibiting signs of bipolar disorder.

Jain emphasizes the importance of raising awareness, drawing from her own experience as a mother of three. She recalls focusing on practical concerns during pregnancy, such as nursing and sleep deprivation, rather than her emotional or mental well-being.

Research indicates that 1 in 5 women and 1 in 10 men experience depression or anxiety during the perinatal period, yet only about 25% seek professional help.

Postpartum Support International (PSI) offers crucial support through its helpline, available in both Spanish and English, catering not only to new mothers but to anyone with concerns.

Andrea Clark Horton, director for the Alliance for People of Color at PSI, shares her personal journey to assist others. Despite experiencing postpartum depression after the birth of her son Grant, Horton initially concealed her struggles out of fear.

Now, in her role at PSI, Horton advocates for those facing similar challenges, particularly among women of color, whose experiences with perinatal mental health disorders are often underreported.

PSI provides training programs for medical professionals to recognize warning signs, emphasizing the importance of pediatricians being vigilant, as infants typically have more frequent doctor visits than mothers.

Both Dr. Jain and Horton stress the significance of understanding one’s family history, as a history of depression or anxiety, as well as having a partner with a mood disorder, are risk factors for perinatal mood disorders.

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