Depression is one of the prevalent mental health disorders in the community. The most affected group comprise of women of the childbearing age. Therefore, the perinatal period is accompanied by many risk factors for the disease (Mennen et al., 2015). Women are much likely to suffer from postpartum depression during the first year following childbirth (Selix & Goyal, 2015). According to Selix and Goyal (2015), depression is an affective mood disorder that leads to the loss of interest in pleasurable activities, continuous feelings of sadness, suicidal thoughts persisting for more than two weeks, irritability, weight loss or gain, and hopelessness. Postpartum depression results in significant cognitive and behavioral abnormalities that manifest from the time of birth to later periods. Claessens, Engel, and Curran (2015) reiterate that the mental health condition contributes to the occurrence of multiple mental health challenges that include cognitive and social impairments. The condition further affects children, whose mothers suffer from the depression. The situation results in subsequent cognitive and behavioral impairments. Therefore, the prevalence of postpartum depression is enormous in women of childbearing age because of the risk factors. The condition affects their children; thus, treatment and prevention strategies should be in place to help curb the menace.
Prevalence of Postpartum Depression
Postpartum depression is a common disorder affecting many women in the society. Women are 50% more likely to suffer from depression than men. Moreover, more than 10% of females from 18 to 39 years suffer from the condition (Claessens, Engel, & Curran, 2015). A minimum 75% of patients, who have had a depressive episode, are likely to have subsequent anxiety-related illnesses (Claessens, Engel, & Curran, 2015). The prevalence of postpartum depression in developed countries varies between 1.9% and 82.1% with the highest rates in the United States and the lowest ones in Germany (Norhayati, Hazlina, Asrenee, & Emilin, 2015). Also, the developing countries show high prevalence rates for the disorder varying between 5.2% and 74.0% with Turkey and Pakistan reporting the maximum and minimum rates respectively (Norhayati et al., 2015). The disorder occurs in the first six weeks after birth and represents a serious public health problem that affects not only the women, but also their families and the economy at large (Mehta & Mehta, 2014). Therefore, women of childbearing age are the most at risk group for depression, especially in their first year after giving birth.
Risk for Postpartum Depression
Women of the childbearing age face factors that increase the likelihood of developing postpartum depression. A low socioeconomic status that manifests through the high levels of poverty, low education levels, insufficient income, and unemployment are associated with postpartum depression in women (Norhayati, Hazlina, Asrenee, & Emilin, 2015). The vulnerable segment is the working population because of the sleep deprivation, inability to take part in health promotion activities, the competing demands of home and work, and role burnout due to taking care of the infant (Selix & Goyal, 2015). Therefore, socioeconomic factors are a major contributor to the development of postpartum depression.
Marital factors and pregnancy related issues may influence the occurrence of the disease. A status of a migrant and the need to give birth to a child in a different country contribute to the likelihood of experiencing post-partum depression (Mehta & Mehta, 2014). Additionally, suffering from antenatal anxiety and depression or having a previous history of psychiatric illness, stressful life events, and poor marital relationships pose a risk for postpartum depression (Norhayati et al., 2015). The husband factor is a strong contributor to depression occurrence among women after delivering a child. Mehta and Mehta (2014) report that having a spouse with a mental instability, current alcoholism, unemployment, and polygamous relationship challenges the adaptation to motherhood. Moreover, lack of husband support and absence of interest in child care predisposes women to maternal depression. Therefore, women face an array of internal and external risk factors that predispose them to the devastating mental health disorder.
Effect of Maternal Depression on Children and the Economy
Maternal depression has direct and indirect effects on the economy. Firstly, the condition influences labor productivity because some of the mothers, who suffer from the disease, have to return to work. The country loses massive amounts of revenue due to the employee absenteeism because of the post-partum depression. Selix and Goyal (2015) assert that at least $51 billion is lost as a result of reduced employee productivity and absenteeism of new mothers. Furthermore, treatment of the same condition results in spending that could otherwise be utilized in the economy. For instance, the cost of postpartum treatment amounts to about $26 billion, and the mother-employees incur more than 48% of the treatment expenditure (Selix & Goyal, 2015). The calculations show that maternal depression adversely impacts the economy in addition to affecting the well-being of society.
Children of depressed mothers face negative consequences of the disease. Babies of the mothers that go through mental instability are six times more likely to develop depression than kids of non-depressed mothers (Rishel, 2012). 41.5% of children develop depression by 16 years of age. On the contrary, only 12.5% of depression cases are attributable to teenagers, whose mothers did not undergo post-partum depression (Rishel, 2012). Children also face social challenges since maternal depression compromises the capacity of sustaining interactions with peers as a result of increased withdrawal or intrusiveness during the infancy (Claessens, Engel, & Curran, 2015; Mennen et al., 2015). In most cases, intrusive women display hostile behaviors that disrupt children’s social life. Consequently, the children experience anger and turn away from their mothers and internalize the anger (Mennen et al., 2015). Depressed and withdrawn mothers are affectively disengaged and unwilling to support their children’s behavioral activities. The unhealthy environment at home and unstable connection with mother compels children to develop withdrawal symptoms as they try to control their lives.
Prevention and Treatment of Postpartum Depression
Prevention of the condition attempts to eliminate the risk factors. The treatment involves the affected mother as well as the children and other family members, who may be affected by the disease. Rishel (2012) reiterates that when developing and executing prevention and treatment interventions, the target should be the mother-child unit. Since the workplace can be a source of stress that causes maternal depression, there should be workplace modifications in the state and national policies to support mothers and reduce the risk for postpartum depression (Selix & Goyal, 2015). Proper care and education should be given during the perinatal period to address the psychological stresses and challenges that can predispose women to postpartum depression. After delivery, Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT) is the strategy to treat both the child and the depressed mother (Rishel, 2012). The therapy targets the mother-child unit through the provision of play and behavioral therapy techniques so as to improve the relationship and establish connection. Also, the parent should receive education on how to establish appropriate limits. Furthermore, psychiatric management of severe cases of post-partum depression should be in place.
Postpartum depression affects women of the childbearing age due to the high prevalence of risk factors, but the prevention and treatment measures can help curb the problem. The susceptible groups of community are women of low socioeconomic status that manifests through high levels of poverty, unemployment, and low income. Marital problems, such as stressful interactions with the husband or having a spouse with a psychiatric illness, predispose women to postpartum depression. Antenatal problems that include having depressive and anxiety symptoms and bad attitudes towards pregnancies are contributing factors. The disease adversely affects the economy since it results in the expenditure to treat the condition and loss of money through reduced employee productivity and absenteeism. Moreover, children suffer its consequences due to the likelihood of developing depression and abnormal social behaviors. However, prevention strategies that focus on the risk factors and treatment of the mother child-unit can help curb the health challenge and provide conditions for enjoying motherhood.