Postpartum depression is a very real and common condition in new mothers but also ignored by most, especially in our country. Now, new research suggests its effects could be far more long-lasting than previously assumed.
According to a study conducted by the National Institutes of Health (USA), every 1 in 4 mothers experienced a high level of depressive symptoms nearly three years after giving birth. Though the frequency may differ, and the symptoms may be episodic rather than continuing for three years straight. The research had a sample size of 5,000 women. As for the other volunteers, they experienced ‘low-levels’ of depression across the three years span.
The research was conducted at Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) and published in the journal Pediatrics. New mothers are recommended by The American Academy of Pediatrics to have a post-partum depression screening at one, two, four, and six months after childbirth. This is the same as recommended visits for child check-up.
However, according to the researchers, there are four major paths of the postpartum depressive symptoms, as well as risk factor that increase the chances for the symptoms. The authors suggest, therefore, to have these screenings till two years after birth to be on the safe side.
“Our study indicates that six months may not be long enough to gauge depressive symptoms,” said Diane Putnick, PhD, the primary author and a staff scientist in the NICHD Epidemiology Branch. She recommended that long-term data are key to improve and understand mom’s mental health, as the mother’s mental health is crucial to her health as well as the child’s well-being and development.
The Upstate KIDS study was the base for this study where babies born between 2008 and 2010 from 57 counties in New York State were included. The new study followed the 5,000 women for three years after childbirth. There was a brief, five item-depression screening questionnaires. However, there wasn’t any clinical diagnosis of depression among the women. They found that women with pre-existing mood disorders or gestational diabetes were more susceptible to show higher levels of depressive symptoms in the study for a longer time.