Depression During and After Pregnancy Can Be Prevented: Counseling is the Key

The New York Times reported on powerful findings that depression during pregnancy and after pregnancy can be prevented with counseling.

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“Perinatal depression, as it is called, is estimated to affect between180,000 and 800,000 American mothers each year and up to 13 percent worldwide. The condition increases a woman’s risk of becoming suicidal or harming her infant, the panel reported. It also increases the likelihood that babies will be born premature or have low birth weight, and can impair a mother’s ability to bond with or care for her child. The panel reported that children of mothers who had perinatal depression have more behavior problems, cognitive difficulties and mental illness.”

While several interventions were studied to see their effects on preventing depression associated with pregnancy, only counseling was found to have scientifically significant effects. The key is counseling allows women to explore their expectations and feelings, as well as develop coping skills for mitigating stress and addressing relationship conflicts. It’s the closest we can come to helping women write their own effective handbook for motherhood.

You may spend significant time and money preparing your home for a child. Whether it’s purchasing all the items a baby needs (or being fortunate to receive generous gifts from loved ones) or baby proofing a home to make it physically safe. You’ve probably also received lots of information in regards to your physical health during pregnancy, including what not to eat to protect the baby. Let’s do more than address a baby and mother’s physical and logistical needs; it’s time to address the mental and emotional aspects, too.