New Moms’ Anxiety Is Often More Common Than Depression

A new study reported recently in the journal Pediatrics, revealed a finding that was no surprise to me: while PPD (postpartum depression) gets the headlines, anxiety after childbirth is more common and affects both mother and baby negatively in the first six months.

The research, conducted by the Penn State College of Medicine in Hershey, Pa. found that 17.1% of breastfeeding women screened positive for “acute postpartum state anxiety,” a much larger number than the 5.5% with depression.

Also, the rate of anxiety was higher among women who had a cesarean versus a vaginal delivery and among those who gave birth for the first time.

Additionally, those moms with anxiety turned to healthcare providers more often in their first two postpartum weeks, and breastfed for a shorter amount of time.

Because of anxiety’s negative effect on both mom and child, the authors of the study emphasized the importance of early screening and intervention. This makes sense to me, because as those of us who specialize in PPD know, the earlier the diagnosis, the better the chance of recovery for the woman and a better childhood for the baby.

This usual larger spotlight on PPD, rather than anxiety, is evidenced in pediatricians’ offices. While the American Academy of Pediatrics encourage their members to look out for PPD, there are no guidelines for anxiety screening.

Samantha Meltzer-Brody, MD, director of the perinatal psychiatry program at the University of North Carolina Center for Women’s Mood Disorders in Chapel Hill, supported the study recommendations. (Coincidently, when I was in North Carolina as the keynote speaker at the Postpartum Support International conference, I met with Dr. Meltzer-Brody and her staff as well as attended her wonderful presentation at PSI).

“It’s very important that effective referral and treatments are initiated because it can make a huge difference on both how the mom feels and on the baby’s development,” Dr. Meltzer-Brody said.

This report, which was written by Todd Neal and published on MedPage Today, is a welcome addition to research on PPD and anxiety. These studies are important ammunition for those of us who stress the value of early screening and intervention. And, I’m gratified to see that anxiety has been moved up to share the spotlight with depression. This action will certainly improve outcomes.


~ by ppdsus on July 2, 2014.

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