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Women, Postpartum Depression and Mental Illness

When the average person contemplates childbirth and motherhood, they rarely consider mental illnesses such as postpartum depression or chronic depression. However, these mental conditions are a common reality for new mothers, and left untreated, they can lead to severe adverse consequences.

According to a recent article, an increase in reports of mothers who are inexplicably injuring or killing their children is an indication that there is a growing problem with identifying mental illnesses that mothers struggle with. Additionally, the article asserts that there is a significant issue with getting the women who need to be treated for mental health issues the treatment they need.

Mothers and Mental Illness

One of the most common mental illnesses that new mothers struggle with is postpartum depression, which is typically a temporary mental condition in which mothers experience depression symptoms that can range from mild to severe. The primary cause for these symptoms is the sudden change in hormones as the body begins to adjust to life after giving birth. As Wallace pointed out, many of the women who suffer from this condition fail to report their illness to anyone, including family members.

Often, the failure to share what they are feeling is based on guilt; they associate the idealizations that they are experiencing with being a poor mother. Unfortunately, attempting to internalize any form of depression can lead to catastrophic consequences. Understanding this disorder is key to identifying a need to seek treatment.

One of the most infamous cases of a mother suffering a psychotic break that was likely triggered by postpartum depression is Andrea Yates, who took the lives of all five of her children because of the voices she was hearing. According to Yates’ husband, Rusty Yates, she had been struggling with postpartum depression, and it would get worse with the birth of each child.

Although Rusty Yates was aware that his wife at the time was battling postpartum depression, he insists that there was no indication that she would harm the kids—highlighting the fact that depression-related mental illness can escalate rapidly and without warning.

The Best Type of Treatment for Mothers with Mental Illness

While most cases of postpartum depression will self-correct within the first three months of giving birth, more severe cases may require some type of intervention therapy and possible medication. Because a significant portion of postpartum depression is due to the rapid change in hormones in the body, treating the condition with certain types of medications is an option and may even be necessary.

Approximately 90 percent of mothers suffering with postpartum depression or some other type of mental illness can be effectively treated with medication or a combination of medication and psychotherapy.

Another highly effective treatment for mothers who are suffering with mental illness is participating in group therapy. Fortunately, there are treatment centers that specialize in treating depression and other mental disorders that mothers struggle with. The programs offered at these centers are highly individualized to address the specific needs of the client, producing positive results.