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Beyond Baby Blues: Part 2

Awareness of mental health interventions are incredibly important for new mothers who show symptoms of Postpartum Depression (PPD) or Perinatal Depression. There are several factors that affect the rate at which help is sought. These factors are generally referred to as barriers to care. According to the Texas Children’s Hospital/Baylor College of Medicine’s Department of Pediatrics, less than 40% of women who screen positive for PPD are able to attend follow-up treatment visits. Less than 6% of women actually complete an entire course of treatment. Why is the completion percentage so low? The answer lies within the general barriers to care.  

Stigma

In addition to the pressure of motherhood, many women face fears associated with PPD. Most often, feelings of shame or guilt hinder seeking help. There is a concern about the perception that the mother is unable to properly care for her baby.

Lack of awareness and education

Imagine suffering from a mental illness and not having the words or the knowledge base to pinpoint exactly how you are feeling. For many new mothers, that is exactly the case. Some are not aware that PPD is a medical condition. Many assume that prolonged feelings of sadness and worry are normal after having a baby. In many cases, a new mother with feelings that persist longer than two weeks should consider seeking a professional opinion.

Mismatched or limited treatment options

The primary methods of treatment for PPD are psychotherapy and/or anti-depressant medication. Studies show that the preference for either method is dependent on several factors, including race and culture. Women of color were more likely to prefer psychotherapy over medication usage. This is important to note because healthcare providers may not respect these preferences, which in turn leads to premature termination of PPD treatment.  

Treatment accessibility

Treatment for PPD requires intensive follow-up care. The challenge for mothers who live in rural areas is traveling greater distances to receive medical care. Moreover, the facilities where services are rendered may offer limited treatment options. This can often lead to unmet medical needs.

Lack of familial or provider support

Mothers managing PPD are less likely to seek treatment if they lack support from family or friends. A mother will not feel that her concerns warrant follow-up care if her symptoms are normalized. Correspondingly, the attitude of the provider is also critical. A healthcare provider who is perceived as indifferent to a new mother could discourage her desire to seek further treatment.

For questions relevant to maternal mental health topics, please contact the Amy Wine Counseling Center at (832) 421-8714.  

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Patricia Aburime

Patricia is a Licensed Professional Counselor Intern at Amy Wine Counseling. She enjoys working with women facing the challenges of life changes through all stages of life, from late teen years well into adult-hood.
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