What the American Academy of Pediatrics’ All New Parental Depression Screening Guidelines Mean for You and Your Family
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) just released brand new screening suggestions and guidelines which advise pediatricians to screen parents for depression and anxiety within the first year of their baby’s life.
Clinical depression is among the most common and disabling mental health problems in the nation, it is twice as likely to have an impact on women as men, and suicide is the second most common reason for death in postpartum women.
Approximately one in five mothers have some type of anxiety or depression during their child’s infancy. In spite of this, depression is commonly undiscovered by a woman’s principal healthcare provider as well as by her obstetrician, often because they do not meet with the mother nearly as frequently as she meets with her daughter’s or son’s pediatrician.
This is certainly one of several reasons the AAP has come out with their newest screening guidelines…
Through the use of regular screening, a pediatric or perinatal health care provider can get an opportunity to identify signs of maternal depression that primary-care physicians very often don’t have.
The Reasons Screening for Parental Depression Can Be So Crucial
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) had been advocating the psychosocial testing of pregnant and postpartum females for quite a while.
Actually, the ACOG advises expectant mothers get tested once in each trimester using a basic questionnaire, with further testing and care recommendations determined by the outcomes of the initial evaluation.
This is not only essential for the sake of the woman — given that depression is easier to handle when caught in early stages — but it may be also crucially important for the health and well-being of the baby and the family unit in general.
Numerous research studies, such as the Adverse Childhood Experience (ACE) study, have demonstrated a significant link between the mental health of caregivers and that of their young children.
A mother’s depression could have dangerous problems for her young children…
Moms are frequently children’s predominant caregivers and kid’s predominant method of acquiring psychological, mental, and interpersonal activation and communication throughout their first few years of life.
Regrettably, new mothers suffering from postpartum depression, or some other psychological disorder, may very well be less likely to display love to their babies, less likely to reply to infant cues, and more liable to be withdrawn, irritable, or possibly even aggressive to their young children.
To put it briefly, women suffering from depression typically have less energy to implement positive parenting techniques (like reading books to their young children and limiting television) and have increased adverse interactions with young ones (from quarrelling to being emotionally removed or unavailable).
Just as the ACE research study has revealed, as time goes by, children reared in a home with a depressed mother or father are more inclined to suffer from behavioral issues and depression of their own, such as eating and sleeping problems, tantrums, hyperactivity, cognitive and learning delays, and various other developmental and socialization issues.
This is what the AAP’s updated guidelines and recommendations are about… Helping new parents strengthen the bond between themselves and their young children and ensuring that mothers, together with their infants, get the best beginning possible.
What to Watch For…
Postpartum depression and other perinatal mood disorders are often times recognized by some of the exact same symptoms as for clinical depression and anxiety. On the other hand, perinatal mood disorders typically come about and remain from any time during the course of the pregnancy through childbirth and as much as twelve months or longer subsequent to the birth.
Regrettably, perinatal mood disorders don’t affect every new mother at the same time or in the same way, therefore there is not a perfect checklist to implement when striving to diagnose them. Nonetheless, all of the signs and symptoms can be equally unsettling and typically leave the woman feeling ashamed, separated, and guilt ridden.
Mothers struggling with perinatal mood disorders such as postpartum depression (PPD) can have any mix of one or more of the following symptoms, which vary from moderate to acute:
• Losing or lessening of interest and gratification in leisure pursuits, daily activities, and life in general
• Sensations of impotence and guilt
• Extreme changes in or lack of the urge to eat
• Unexplained loss of weight or gain in weight
• Decreased stamina or enthusiasm, sleeping far more than normal, and overwhelming weariness
• Sustained sobbing or tearfulness
• Problems with going to sleep or keeping asleep (even once the baby is sleeping)
• Emotional shifts
• Being excessively worried about the child
• A lack of concern for the baby
• Irritability, jitteriness, and/or anxiousness
• Daily headaches, rapid heartbeats, nausea or vomiting, perspiration, as well as other physiological symptoms most typically associated with fear and anxiety
• Anxiety- or fear-based abdominal pains and chest aches and pains
• Fear of doing harm to one’s self or one’s child
• Difficulty concentrating, loss of memory, and/or disorientation
• Prolonged reduction in sexual interest
• Negative or frightening thoughts
• Believing the newborn will be better off if it doesn’t have its mother
• Yearning for someone to take the baby away, sometimes to the point of even contacting child protection services
• Hopelessness or despair
Though not all of the above characteristics and symptoms will be tested for by a perinatal health care professional or your child’s doctor, they are signs and symptoms to remember.
Moreover, seeing that anxiety plays quite a significant part in perinatal mood disorders, particular attention ought to be paid to anxiety and panic attacks and certain fears, such as leaving the curtains shut ALL of the time due to thoughts that somebody is looking, laying awake at night expecting a “shadowy danger”, becoming excessively preoccupied with the child’s wellbeing, and/or intrusive thoughts and feelings related to injuring the baby. Each of these are signs that a new mother needs to acquire professional help.
Additionally, it’s common for mothers to attempt to construct coping techniques to control these types of difficulties. These strategies include packing days jam-packed with activities and tasks (both by design and necessity). They strive hard not to quit moving, as if and when they do the exhaustion occurs along with the fear. While many mothers may experience guilt relating to not desiring to leave bed, it’s more crucial to keep busy in order not to really feel anxiety and fear.
Alas, even though this strategy for coping may help a new mother ignore some of the unhelpful thoughts and feelings, doing it will not help to eliminate her worries and fears, much less help her figure out how to love her kids and her life.
Given the pressure associated with taking care of an infant, it is clear that mothers may very well be moody, anxious, and/or worn out… This may be especially true for a new mom. Nonetheless, if a new mother undergoes substantial shifts in motivation, temper, and/or appetite she really should try to get professional assistance, no matter if the mother has previously been examined.
What Happens After Screening?
If you happen to be seeking information for a person you care for or you’ve been examined to find out if you have anxiety or depression by your own perinatal health professional or infant’s pediatrician, what will happen subsequent to the screening process will depend mainly upon the results.
Assessment is the beginning of a methodical method of diagnosis and being able to help parents suffering depression or anxiety.
By and large, whenever the results of the screen suggest anxiety or depression, the mother or father will end up being referred to one or more mental health specialists for a consultation, examination, and review.
These types of providers include social workers, mental health nurse practitioners, psychologists, licensed marriage and family therapists, or psychiatrists, based on whether or not antidepressant medications are required to help alleviate the depression’s symptoms.
Thankfully, whether or not prescription drugs are recommended, skilled counseling and psychotherapy are oftentimes very effective for treating postpartum depression, perinatal mood disorders, and other various depression and anxiety disorders.
The main thing is getting support… And the earlier the better!
Which is what the AAP’s revised screening standards are all about…
In the event you or someone you care about is going through one or more of the conditions listed previously, or if you’re uncomfortable with how you think about your child or your part as a mom, do not think twice about getting screened. Speak with a mental health practitioner who concentrates on helping women address and treat depressive disorders. There’s help readily available and getting the help you require in a timely manner is the initial step toward ensuring that your baby and you end up with a wonderful, fulfilling relationship and life!