Doctor pushes screenings to combat postpartum depression
A call is being made for obstetricians to conduct proper screenings for expectant mothers in order to mitigate against the effects of postpartum depression (PPD).
Dr Leslie Meade, obstetrician/ gynaecologist, was among a group of professionals and mothers interviewed recently by The Gleaner on the issue of PPD.
Meade defined PPD as the period when a mother develops a series of psychological problems after giving birth. He noted that it is a fairly common issue among women, but it is not often spoken about openly.
"It (PPD) is really one part of a course of diseases, so you can have postpartum blues, postpartum depression, or postpartum psychosis. Almost every mother may have some level of postpartum blues; depression tends to occur in about 15 per cent of mothers; while less than one per cent might have postpartum psychosis. It's fairly common," Meade told The Gleaner.
"We do see those mothers who will have tendencies to harm their children, but we tend to see it with those who have the psychosis. You can have, in some level of depression, especially for those mothers who had depressive symptoms before or bipolar disorders, real problems developing during and after pregnancy," he said.
He said that the ideal solution is for mothers to be treated whether by psychotherapy, medication, or a combination of both. Meade also said that sleep deprivation is a big factor that contributes to the psychological problem.
"One of the things that is important for all obstetricians to do is to be vigilant and screen their mothers. Take a proper history so you know whether or not they have had any history of depression or psychosis. Those persons are the ones at greatest risk for developing postpartum depression. We find that those who have family support or spousal support or general social support tend to do better. So that is important."
Asked about cases he has come across over the years, he said, "I have only had one occasion where a father called me. He was very concerned because he recognised that the mother was very agitated even with the baby, and he called me to intervene.
"Some years ago also, I had another patient who was having difficulty coping. In fact, she had reached to the stage of psychosis, where she was hearing voices and started to have hallucinations. She was feeling things crawling and seeing things. Luckily, at the time, I was at the university hospital, so we had all the disciplines available at one spot, and so we were able to call them in and it was resolved."