CAMBRIDGE, Mass. (CBSNewYork) – Depression during and after pregnancy is very common, but about half of women go undiagnosed and untreated.
A new report is calling for expectant moms and new moms to be screened often, reports CBS2’s Dr. Mallika Marshall.
Kristin Bowles is a mother of two. When she had her son four years ago, she had concerns.
“Just feeling a lot more panic, difficulty sleeping, being able to shut my brain off,” she said.
Bowles, a social worker, was eventually diagnosed with post-partum anxiety and prescribed medication.
“As a first time mom, I wasn’t sure if those thoughts were normal versus not normal,” she said.
A new report from the American Academy of Pediatrics aims to better identify mental health issues for moms before and after birth.
The group recommends screening once during pregnancy, and then asks pediatricians to screen moms during infant well visits up to 6 months of age.
“Sadness, irritability, sleeplessness, I think the sleep deprivation that all new parents experience in the first few months after birth is certainly a risk factor for PPD,” said pediatrician and report author Dr. Michael Yogman.
The report says post-partum depression, if left untreated, can affect a child’s development and cause family relationship problems
Yogman says diagnosing depression in fathers is also important.
They may present a little differently with some different symptoms because they are not as likely to admit to sadness.
Anxiety and depression often occur together. When Kristin was pregnant with her daughter, her psychologist followed her closely. She was also screened at her baby’s well visits.
“Women should be talking to each other and to their doctors and getting connected to the right supports,” said Bowles. “That only makes you a better mom, a better woman.”
About 15 to 20 percent of new mothers are affected by prenatal and post-natal depression.
Bowles hopes reducing the stigma will help other women get the help they need.