William S. Meyer, MSW, BCD, Associate Clinical Professor at Duke University’s Departments of Psychiatry and OB/GYN and a leader of the Duke Postpartum Depression Support Group, spoke to UNC’s Perinatal Psychiatry Team about treating women with high-risk pregnancies. Meyer about working with women affected by postpartum depression:
We tell them it will get better, because it will. We tell them that regardless of whether they stay at home or work, whether they breast-feed or bottle-feed, they can still be terrific mothers and have happy and thriving babies. Finally, we tell them the most important thing: that they will find it easier to give to their babies if their needs are taken care of first. We encourage them to be assertive and reach out and get assistance from all who can offer it.
Parenting an infant is unusually difficult and demanding. No fewer than 10-15% of new mothers experience significant postpartum anxiety and depression. Consider then just how many women are so affected! If we wish to give this condition the currency and visibility it deserves, and I believe we must, we must do so by emphasizing its high prevalence. Postpartum stress/anxiety/depression is real, it is common, and it is treatable. Let us all strive to reach out to new mothers in need so that they may be provided with good health care, accurate information, adequate resources and support for as long as it may be necessary.