Perinatal mental health problems are very common, affecting up to 20% of women at some point during the perinatal period.
They are also of major importance as a public health issue, not just because of their adverse impact on the mother but also because they have been shown to compromise the healthy emotional, cognitive and even physical development of the child, with serious long-term consequences.
Much previous work on perinatal mental health has focused on postnatal depression. However, it is known that mental health problems often occur during the antenatal period and that problems go beyond depression, to include anxiety, psychosis, post-traumatic stress disorder and other conditions. All these problems warrant attention, whenever they occur in the perinatal period. Maternal depression and anxiety, which often occur together, are at least as common during pregnancy as they are in the year after childbirth. Recent advances in neuroscience and other disciplines clearly suggest that psychological distress during pregnancy is a significant risk factor for a range of adverse outcomes in the child (1).
- Bauer, Annette, Parsonage, Michael, Knapp, Martin, Iemmi , Valentina and Adelaja , Bayo (2014) Costs of perinatal mental health problems. London School of Economics and Political Science, London, UK.