Medical Experts Encourage Treatment For Postpartum Depression

According to the CDC, one in eight American women suffer from postpartum depression — a form of depression that develops following childbirth.

Medical experts from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center are urging new mothers to pursue mental health care and treatments for postpartum depression. Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at UTSW, Latoya Frolov, M.D., notes postpartum depression help is vital for the entire family.

"Postpartum depression affects the family on many levels, including relationships between women and their partners, and social and occupational functioning," Frolov says in a UT Southwestern Medical Center news release. “It also influences attachment or bonding with their infants, which may impact child development. Treating it is important for the entire family.”

What causes postpartum depression?

Baby blues usually occur within the first two weeks following the birth of a child. Becoming a new mother is not easy, often leading to exhaustion and lack of sleep. If baby blues symptoms persist, it is important to seek medical care for postpartum depression.

Steps to reduce baby blues:

  • Sleep is important, the CDC recommends at least seven hours of sleep for those over the age of 18.
  • Receive help from friends and family.
  • Make sure to reserve time alone for self-care
  • Remove alcohol and recreational drugs from your lifestyle to limit mood swings.

The CDC says mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. Postpartum depression is one of more than 200 mental health conditions classified by the National Institute of Health (NIH).

The American Psychiatric Association notes different stigmas surrounding mental health conditions. These individual, institutional, and public stigmas around mental health care may cause women with postpartum depression to shy away from discussing their condition. UT Southwestern Clinical Assistant Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology Martin Hechanova, M.D., encourages women to express emotions to their physicians.

"They should be reassured that these conversations with their doctor are important and confidential," Hechanova says. "I remind my patients daily that our appointments are a safe space to discuss mental health and they can trust me with their symptoms and concerns about postpartum depression and anxiety. Early recognition and treatment are key."

To help with postpartum depression, UT Southwestern physicians recommend light-to-moderate physical activities, yoga, and meditation to help elevate mood. Frolov highlights postpartum depression patients with questions regarding activity should connect with their medical care provider.

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