Here's why every pregnant woman must get screened for depression

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Popular symptoms of postpartum depression include sadness, anxiety, crying spells, low self-esteem and lethargy

Postpartum depression is fairly common in India so much so that it affects nearly one in every five new mothers. While the symptoms and the degree of postpartum depression may vary from one woman to another, insecurity is one of its early signs. Other popular symptoms include sadness, anxiety, crying spells, low self-esteem and lethargy. In extreme cases, the new mother may even turn violent and even suicidal.

What you must do

The American Psychological Association (APA) has listed out the following steps you can take if you notice signs of postpartum depression:

  1. Seek help from a professional by first getting in touch with your doctor.
  2. Share your feelings with your spouse, close friends and relatives.
  3. Get in a touch with a trusted friend or relative who will take care of the baby.
  4. Try to get as much sleep or rest as possible.
  5. Don’t take on unwanted/unimportant responsibilities.
  6. Never ever blame yourself. It’s a condition that affects many women and is very much treatable.

Why screening is important

APA suggests that almost half of the women who suffer from postpartum depression begin showing symptoms during pregnancy itself. As a result if you get yourself screened for depression on time, it will go a long way in mitigating its effects. This will be not only good for your health but for your baby as well.

On Tuesday (26th January), U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommended that all pregnant women be screened for depression, a report in Refinery 29 says. Early detection and treatment will make a huge difference to women showing signs of postpartum depression. The  task force says that women are more prone to depression as compared to men. 

Who is at risk

While one can’t put a finger on who exactly is at risk for postpartum depression, women with a family history of mental illnesses are more likely to suffer from it. Researchers have now come up with a blood test that shows if a woman is at risk for postpartum depression.

The good thing is that with so much information all around, awareness surrounding postpartum depression is going up. However, like most other things, you will only receive help if you help yourself. So if you notice any sign of depression, don’t be afraid to speak to your near and dear ones and take professional help. After all, it is in the interest of you and your baby.

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Written by

Avinash Iyer