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Psychiatrists urge focus on maternal mental health during pandemic

Psychiatrists urge focus on maternal mental health during pandemic
Posted at 11:16 AM, May 06, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-06 17:37:20-04

NORFOLK, Va. – May 6 is World Maternal Mental Health Day, and psychiatrists urge a greater focus on maternal mental health during the coronavirus pandemic.

“With the pandemic on top of [postpartum depression], we have to be even more observant of what’s going on with our new moms,” said nationally acclaimed psychiatrist Dr. Dion Metzger.

According to the World Health Organization, about 10% of pregnant women and 13% of women who have just given birth experience a mental disorder, primarily depression. Dr. Metzger believes those numbers are likely higher under the stress of the pandemic.

“If there’s ever any risk of harm to self, that’s a big sign for us,” said Dr. Metzger. “It doesn’t have to be something specific. It could just be like, if I were to fall asleep and not wake up.”

CHKD lists additional signs of mood and anxiety disorders during and after pregnancy as:

  • Feeling sad, hopeless, angry or overwhelmed
  • Feeling anxious or panicky
  • Regrets about having a baby
  • Having trouble sleeping, even when the baby sleeps
  • Thinking your family is better off without you
  • Having thoughts that scare you

Dr. Metzger said when mothers reach the point where they’re ready to give up and no longer want to meet their obligations as a parent, they need to seek help.

“Talk to somebody," Dr. Metzger stressed. “I always say, 'Let’s err on the side of safety and let’s go ahead and get it checked out.'"

Dr. Metzger suggested using the Psychology Today search engine for therapists, which allows you to find help based on insurance and areas of expertise.

You can ask your primary doctor or pediatrician for a referral to a mental health professional. You can also join a support group likes those listed with Postpartum Support Virginia.

You can learn more about support groups at CHKD by calling (757) 668-7165 or emailing healthymommyhealthybaby@CHKD.org.

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