It’s time to stop pretending motherhood is perfect, and confront – and treat – maternal mental illness.

Bright Beginnings Advocacy, Community, Maternal Mental Health

Dana Edgull and Stephanie McMurtrie | Monterey County Weekly

Up to 20 percent of new or expectant mothers in California will experience a perinatal mood or anxiety disorder during pregnancy or the first year following childbirth. Maternal depression is a common experience of women in the U.S., affecting more mothers than gestational diabetes and preeclampsia combined. Here in Monterey County, an estimated 1,000 women annually experience postpartum depression symptoms, representing 15 percent of the women giving birth.

Maternal mental health disorders include depression, anxiety and the less common but most severe of the disorders, postpartum psychosis. Untreated disorders can significantly and negatively impact the health and well-being of women and their children. Additionally, the financial costs of not addressing these conditions can be significant (for example, more use of emergency care services and higher rates of absenteeism at work).

Despite negative consequences of untreated maternal mental health disorders, screening is not routine. New California laws that take effect July 1 will require that obstetric providers either confirm prior screening for maternal depression or to screen women directly. It also requires health insurers to create maternal mental health programs.

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