A lonely struggle: new mothers share their mental health challenges

Pregnancy, childbirth and motherhood cause a woman’s entire reality to transform – from hormonal and physical changes, to motherhood itself. Photo: Pexels

(Carlotta Dotto/ CNN Health) — Mental health conditions during pregnancy or in the first year after birth can affect anyone, including those with no previous experience of mental health problems.

It’s estimated that as many as 1 in 5 women experience some form of mental health issues during this time, known as the perinatal period, according to UK’s National Health Service, and these vary greatly from non-psychotic conditions, such as depressive illness and anxiety, to less common conditions, such as postpartum psychosis.

But a widespread lack of knowledge, deeply entrenched stigma and systemic gender and economic inequality mean that millions of people are estimated to go undiagnosed or untreated each year in high, middle and low income countries alike.

“The context in which [these issues] occur varies from culture, environment, and population,” Alain Gregoire, perinatal psychiatrist and honorary president of the Maternal Mental Health Alliance, told CNN. “But the experience of suffering profound trauma at such a critical time in life is something that is shared by women, children and families all over the world.” (…)