Psychological issues that encourage people to seek professional help can affect clients of any age and situation, but women who have recently given birth are often indicated as being at a somewhat high risk of developing post-partum depression. This concern has been shown to have considerable potential effects on children, and has been the subject of numerous studies in recent decades. Yet antenatal depression, which is experienced during pregnancy or within the preceding nine months, is realizing greater attention within the professional and academic communities. Studies conducted on antenatal depression have suggested that women who experience symptoms including hopelessness, profound sadness, a lack of motivation, and other issues before or during pregnancy may be at a much higher risk of being affected by postpartum depression.
Also troubling, recent research connects antenatal depression with increased rates of violent behavior in teens whose mothers were afflicted with the issue. The children of mothers who experienced depression during pregnancy were also more likely to experience developmental difficulties, and some researchers have suggested that hormonal imbalances in the womb caused by substance abuse and other potentially dangerous behaviors may also result from the condition of being depressed.
Some psychiatric drugs indicated for those with symptoms of depression may be undesirable for expectant mothers, and obstetricians often advise against their use during pregnancy. The role of psychotherapy and other treatments may therefore become even more crucial for pregnant mothers as the prevalence and severity of antenatal depression becomes clearer. Through expanding therapy services to mothers-to-be while continuing research into the potential impacts of depression on the well-being of both mother and baby, today’s professionals may help ensure that tomorrow’s children receive a mentally healthier start.
© Copyright 2010 by By Noah Rubinstein, LMFT, LMHC, therapist in Olympia, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.
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