Mental Health

Pregnancy Can Include Admitting You're Depressed

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Pregnancy is supposed to be a joyous time, but some women can fall into a state of literally deadening despair. Doctors need more training to detect warning signs and women should be encouraged to speak up about what they're going through.

Pregnancy Depression(WOMENSENEWS)--When Rebecca Binford was pregnant with her son three years ago, she found herself engulfed by emotional and physical stress, increased pressures at work, extreme anxiety and an unbearable amount of pain. She became so overwhelmed that it was difficult to function normally.

"I was in a total state of despair," she says. "I had very little coping skills at a time when so much was going on in my life and with my body."

She's fine now, but some women don't survive depression in pregnancy.

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Two out of every 100,000 women who are pregnant kill themselves, according to a study published in November by the journal Obstetrics and Gynecology. Authors analyzed the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Violent Death Reporting System, which includes reports from 17 states, from 2003 to 2007. The authors found 94 cases of pregnant women who had taken their own lives. While that number isn't huge, it's higher than the number of pregnant women who die from such causes as hemorrhaging, improper development of the placenta or preeclampsia, a condition of high blood pressure that can occur during pregnancy.

Suicide is the second-leading cause of death in the women in the study. The first is homicide.

"This may not be what we want to hear, but it's the reality," says Dr. Christine Palladino, who authored the study.

Palladino, an obstetrician-gynecologist and researcher at Georgia Health Sciences University in Augusta, says the suicide figures should shine a light on the number of pregnant women suffering from depression who, for reasons that are still unclear, may not be getting the proper treatment.

Stigma may inhibit women from admitting a problem. Pregnancy is supposed to be a joyous time, which makes women feel ashamed to admit they are suffering.

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