Op-Ed on Maternal Depression Screening and Care

Last week, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force captured national headlines, calling for all pregnant and postpartum women to be screened for depression. The maternal mental health community widely celebrated the news, recognizing it as a monumental step forward to improve the lives of mothers, children and families throughout the U.S.

One in seven women experience depression during or after pregnancy, with higher rates occurring among specific populations such as those affected by military deployment, immigration, or poverty. In San Diego County, where the annual birth rate is approximately 40,000, universal implementation of this recommendation would potentially impact thousands of women and their families.

The task force recommendations are based on the growing body of research that confirms that maternal depression during and after pregnancy routinely goes unidentified and untreated.  Click here for the full statement.


In other words….

Don’t be surprised by postpartum depression | BabyCenter.

I frequently write about or concentrate on postpartum depression or anxiety. But because its such a complicated and surprising experience for most, I feel its best captured by a multitude of voices.  Hence, here are some ‘other words’, courtesy of BabyCenter.com, summarizing the basic facts of postpartum depression, what the risk factors are and some ways to prevent or manage the onset.

Prenatal Anxiety and Depression


Prenatal Anxiety and Depression: Diagnosing the Problem and Getting Help.

Do you have questions about anxiety or depression during pregnancy?  Listen to this online radio program in which I discuss this very issue with panelists and show host Sunny Gault.

Postpartum Perspective – Research Report

When I consult on cases in which a caregiver is experiencing postpartum depression, I frequently find myself advocating for the parents to seek out quality and reliable  child care for some part of the week.  The goal in this recommendation is so that the parents can give themselves time to recover, participate in treatment, or do other inner-strength building activities while they ensure that the child is in a stimulating and enriching environment.

A new research report verifies that group care can be protective against long term effects of exposure to postpartum depression in young children.  (Health News – Group-based child care is linked to reduced emotional problems in preschool children of depressed mothers.)

If this solution is an option for you, then here are a few key principles to keep in mind as you seek out this solution:

A – seek out a child care environment that is sensitive and developmentally appropriate.  You don’t want your solution to cause you more problems by ending up with an inconsistent or problematic caregiver, which will only require you to interrupt the care by looking for another provider, or feel like the solution failed.

B – use a consistent child care schedule, even if it is only one, two or three days a week.  This helps everyone in the family adjust to the routine and eventually helps the infant or young child develop a sense of mastery and security in the situation.

C – watch for self-criticism.  Parents often feel they are inadequate or ‘less than’ if they can’t parent their child 100% of the time. This criticism will only set you back in your recovery.  Most wise societies recognize that caregiving is a big job that requires a team of people (It takes a village).  You are invoking your need for a team of other supports out of wisdom that this is necessary to your health and recovery.

D – keep it up. After you begin to feel like yourself, consider maintaining the childcare arrangement so that you can continue to act on this ideal of self care and balance. Whether the childcare allows you to work, visit with friends, or exercise, all of this is essential to your overall balance as a parent.  Of course financial realities may not allow for this. If that is the case, you might consider a babysitting co-op, the local YMCA child watch, or something else that allows you breaks.

No one should enter the biggest job of their life feeling worn down and depleted.  Parenting is no different.  You deserve the support.


Lost and Found

The term depression is often used in a way that diminishes its true meaning and impact.  I’ve heard the phrase “Its so depressing” used in reference to parking spaces, clothing sizes, or the cancellation of a particularly favorite drink or food from one’s Starbucks menu, as in “Oh no!  No more gingerbread lattes?  That’s so depressing.”  Of course these types of moments are not in fact, depressing.   It is a phrase used to describe any moment or interchange in which we don’t get our way or we face minor frustrations.

In fact, true Depression is something much deeper and darker; Continue reading