Womens Health

Depression in Motherhood

As a mother struggling to balance the home, work, raising children, fostering a relationship with your husband, it's natural to feel overwhelmed.  Many mothers will chalk up their feelings of anxiety, stress and sadness to the many challenges that come along with motherhood.  However, sometimes these feelings are signs of a more serious mental illness, depression.  Women tend to suffer from depression because of the numerous hormonal changes that take place in the female body due to pregnancy, nursing and post partum hormones, or from menstruation, perimenopause and menopause.

How depression can affect the family

Having a parent who suffered from depression, or who exhibited signs of depression is one of the biggest indicators of a child's potential tendency to suffer from depression.  Studies show that about 50% of children whose mothers are depressed will experience a depressive incident at sometime in their lives.  This is the case in situations where a mother's depression remains untreated.  Children who are exposed to one or more months of untreated maternal depression are much more likely to develop depression themselves.  Maternal depression can also affect a child's cognitive and emotional development and can cause negative behavioral reactions. Therefore, treating mom's depression will not only help her get her life back on track, but will benefit the entire family by ensuring the children's emotional and psychological well-being.

How to treat maternal depression

If you or a loved one seems to be suffering from maternal depression, make sure that help is sought.  Some mothers may be reluctant to get the help they need, but it is crucial for their children's sake that mom's depression and anxiety be under control.

Preventing Maternal Depression

While maternal depression's primary cause is a chemical imbalance that is caused by hormonal changes, there are ways to attempt to prevent or at least minimize the degree of maternal depression. Make sure that mom gets enough rest, good nutrition and has a strong support network made up of family, friends or both.  Early intervention is always best, so if mom seems to be exhibiting signs of depression, make sure to get treatment. 

Therapy Options

Like with many forms of depression, there are a range of available treatments.  Treatments include: Psychotherapy, anti-depressants, social support from family or friends. There are also complementary or alternative treatments, which include the uses of herbs such as St. John's wort and family therapy.  A competent practitioner or mental health counselor would be able to determine which method would work best.

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