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What the American Academy of Pediatrics' New Parent Depression Screening Recommendations Mean for You

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The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) a short time ago put out brand new screening suggestions and guidelines which advise pediatricians to screen mothers and fathers for anxiety and depression during the initial year of their infant's life. 

 

Depression is one of the most widespread and disabling psychological health problems in the United States, it is twice as likely to affect females as males, and suicide is the second leading cause of death in postpartum females.

 

Around one in five new mothers have to cope with some form of depression or anxiety in their child's infancy. However, depression symptoms are all too often undiagnosed by a woman's basic healthcare provider and in many cases by her own obstetrician, often because they tend not to meet with the new mother anywhere near as frequently as she meets with her newborn's pediatrician.

 

That may be one of the key reasons why the AAP has come forth with their newest screening guidelines…

 

By employing regular screening, a perinatal or pediatric health care professional may well have an opportunity to detect signs of a mother's depression that primary physicians commonly do not enjoy.

 

Why Screening for Parent Depression Is Important

 

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) has been endorsing the psychosocial evaluation of pregnant and postpartum mothers for some time.

 

Indeed, the ACOG suggests mothers-to-be get assessed at least once every trimester using a standard set of questions, with additional testing and treatment instructions subject to the outcome of the original screening.

 

This is not only vital for the welfare of the new mom - because depression is much easier to deal with if noticed early - but it is just as vitally essential for the health and well-being of the son or daughter and the family as a whole.

 

Many research studies, including the Adverse Childhood Experience (ACE) study, have established a significant relationship between the mental health and wellness of caregivers and that of their sons and daughters.

 

A mother's depression can result in substantial problems for her sons and daughters...

 

Moms are typically children's predominant care providers and infant's key way to intellectual, psychological, and social development and communication during their initial years of life.

 

Unfortunately, mothers struggling with postpartum depression, or another psychological disorder, tend to be less inclined to express love towards their newborns, less inclined to reply to an infant's cues, and more inclined to be withdrawn, irritable, or possibly aggressive towards their children.

 

In short, women suffering depression typically have little energy to employ positive parental behaviors (like reading with their daughters and sons and limiting television) and suffer far more unfavorable interactions with young children (from arguing to being emotionally distant or inaccessible).

 

Just like the ACE research study has shown, as time goes by, boys and girls raised in a home with a depressed parent are likely to develop behavioral problems and depression of their very own, including hyperactivity, tantrums, cognitive and learning delays, eating and sleep issues, and various other emotional and interpersonal problems.

 

This really is what the AAP's newest guidelines and recommendations are all about… Assisting caregivers in improving the relationship between themselves and their sons and daughters and also making certain new mothers, and their newborns, receive the best beginning possible.

 

What to Look For…

 

Perinatal mood disorders such as postpartum depression are often times characterized by many of the same characteristics as those for clinical depression and anxiety. On the other hand, perinatal mood disorders typically appear and continue at any time over the course of the pregnancy through childbirth and as much as a full year or longer after delivery.

 

Lamentably, perinatal mood disorders do not have the same effect on every mother at the exact same time or in exactly the same way, so there is not a particular checklist to use when undertaking to make a diagnosis. However, all the signs and symptoms can be equally unsettling and usually make the new mother feel isolated, ashamed, and guilt ridden.

 

New mothers suffering perinatal mood disorders such as postpartum depression (PPD) may suffer any number of the following symptoms, which range from mild to extreme:

 

• Lack or reduction of interest and delight in pastimes, regular tasks, as well as living in general

• Feelings of inadequacy and shame

• Severe swings in or loss of the desire for food

• Mysterious loss of weight or gaining of weight

• Decreased stamina and ambition, resting far more than normal, and profound exhaustion

• Increased weeping or tearfulness

• Trouble going to sleep or staying asleep (including if the baby is sleeping)

• Emotional swings

• Becoming exceedingly concerned for the child

• Absence of involvement with the infant

• Frustration, uneasiness, and/or emotional stress

• Consistent perspiration, nausea, rapid heartbeats, headaches, in addition to other physiological symptoms having to do with anxiety and fear

• Anxiety- or fear-based stomach pain and chest aches

• Anxiety about hurting oneself and/or one's child

• Difficulty paying attention, confusion, or loss of memory

• Extended reduction in sexual interest

• Negative and scary thoughts

• Sensing that the infant would probably be better off not having the mom

• Wishing for somebody to just take the child away, in some cases even calling protective agencies

• Hopelessness or despair

 

Although not all of the above symptoms will be tested for by a perinatal health professional or your infant's pediatrician, they are all symptoms to remember.

 

Furthermore, seeing that anxiety has an extremely important role in perinatal and other mood disorders, special care and attention needs to be paid to anxiety and panic attacks and specific fears, such as invasive feelings pertaining to harming the newborn, keeping all of the blinds and curtains shut ALL of the time as a consequence of beliefs and feelings that somebody may be watching, becoming much too worried about the baby's health and wellness, and staying awake during the night awaiting some sort of "shadowy threat". These are all warning signs that any new mom should find specialized care.

 

It is not uncommon for mothers to attempt to come up with coping processes to help with these types of symptoms. Those strategies often include packing every day full of tasks and activities (out of necessity and design). They struggle really hard to never cease moving, simply because as soon as they do the exhaustion sinks in as well as the dread. Though some mothers may suffer guilt for hardly desiring to get up from bed, it becomes more critical to keep active so they won't sense the fear.

 

Alas, even if this type of coping helps a new mother ignore some unhelpful feelings, the problem is it will not help to clear up her anxieties and fearfulnesses, let alone help her learn how to take delight in her children as well as her life.

 

Given the stress connected with caring for a child, it is understandable why moms may well be short-tempered, tense, or tired… This can be particularly so for a new mother. But when a new mom experiences dramatic changes in temper, her desire to eat, or motivation she should ask for professional help, regardless of if the mother has previously been examined.

 

What Happens After Screening?

 

No matter whether you're seeking out relief for somebody you love or you have already been assessed to ascertain whether or not you have anxiety or depression by your present perinatal healthcare practitioner or your child's pediatrician, what occurs subsequent to the evaluation relies mainly upon the overall results.

 

Testing is only the first step of a methodical procedure for diagnosis and being able to help new parents struggling with anxiety or depression.

 

Generally speaking, in the event the results of the screen reveal anxiety or depression, the parent or guardian will wind up being referred to one or more mental health providers to obtain a consultation, assessment, and diagnosis.

 

These kinds of specialists include clinical social workers, mental health nurse practitioners, licensed psychologists, marriage and family therapists, or psychiatrists, according to whether antidepressant medications may help to manage the symptoms of depression.

 

The good news is, regardless if prescription medications are recommended, skilled counseling and therapy are typically effective for the treatment of postpartum depression, perinatal mood disorders, in addition to other depression and anxiety disorders.

 

The crucial element is getting support… And the quicker the better!

 

Which happens to be what the revised screening guidelines and recommendations are about…

 

If you find you or a friend or family member is going through one or more of the problems mentioned above, or whenever you're bothered with the way in which you think about your newborn or your job as a mom, do not think twice about getting screened. Speak to a mental health professional who specializes in helping women to cope with and surmount depressive disorders. There's help obtainable and receiving the support you deserve as quickly as possible is the starting point toward ensuring that your young child and you develop a wonderful, gratifying relationship and life!

 

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Last updated 449 days ago by therapist952