On Dec. 4, Brookhaven Retreat was able to interview Dr. Payne, an expert in the treatment of peripartum depression, about her experience in the treatment and prevention of peripartum mood disorders.
Peripartum depression occurs either during or after pregnancy, and can affect the health of a newborn child. Studies show that postpartum depression in mothers results in lower IQ, slower language learning and greater chance of ADHD in children because depressed mothers do not provide children with adequate emotional stimulation in the form of speaking, smiling or playing. Drugs known to treat postpartum depression have no effect on breastfed children but eliminate the emotional and learning risks associated with depressed mothers.
Especially at risk are women with a family history of postpartum depression, mental illness, greater than average pre-mensutral symptoms or stress. Above average sleep disturbance during pregnancy also predicts greater risk of postpartum depression.
Dr. Payne says that it is important for women in psychiatric treatment to be considered potential future mothers. Plans should be put in place to prevent postpartum depression and treat it if it should occur. She also encourages women experiencing postpartum depression to seek help immediately in order to minimize risk to their children.
Brookhaven Retreat believes that all women should create a pregnancy treatment plan regardless of whether they are pregnant or planning to be pregnant in the near future. Life is full of surprises. It is important to be ready for anything, and a comprehensive health care plan that includes the possibility of pregnancy reduces mental health risks for women and children alike.