Kim Gibson, MS, ATR, LPCC
Maternal Mental Health Awareness Month
Updated: May 5, 2019
One in five women will experience anxiety or depression following childbirth.
Maternal anxiety and depression are the most common complications of childbirth, impacting up to 1 in 5 women, yet they are not commonly screened for. This often means mothers suffer in silence or have to take on yet another role and become their own advocates. If you are in this situation, it is important to know you are not alone, you are not to blame and with help you will get better.
The exact cause of Maternal Mental Health (MMH) disorders is unknown. Biological hormonal, environmental and psychological factors all seem to play a role. In addition, risk factors, including dramatic hormonal changes, unexpected childbirth experience, chronic sleep deprivation, your family’s medical history, your previous experience with depression, (particularly PPD), recent losses, & lack of social support all come into to play too. It’s important to note that depression and anxiety can strike new mothers with no risk factors, too. No one is too blame and regardless of the cause(s), treatment does help.
If you are in this situation, please reach out to your doctor or to a therapist. Let your partner and your friends know what you are going through. If it's hard to get to a therapist's office, please consider trying Teletherapy, which is therapy offered by video. Many therapists, including me, offer this service. Also, looking at resources on the web can help. Websites can provide support, education and encouragement. They can help you feel less alone. Two really good ones are "The Blue Dot Project" https://www.thebluedotproject.org and Postpartum Support International (PSI). https://www.postpartum.net/ PSI runs a helpline where anyone can call to get basic information, support and resources. That number is 1-800-944-4773(4PPD). They also host an event called "Climb Out of the Darkness." Climb Out of the Darkness this year will take place in June. It is the world’s largest event raising awareness of maternal mental health issues. Survivors – dubbed Warrior Moms – climb, hike or walk together at a local mountain or park to symbolize their collective rise out of the darkness as well as to raise funds & awareness. If you are interested in participating in this family friendly event, please see their website for additional details including location and date.