The FDA recently approved the first pill specifically intended to treat postpartum depression, which affects roughly 1 in 7 women who have given birth according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Nearly half are not diagnosed due to lack of screening and reporting.
Southwest Human Development, Arizona’s largest nonprofit dedicated to early childhood development, has long recognized the profound impact of postpartum depression on both mothers and infants.
“The emotional well-being of mothers directly influences infant development and the family dynamic,” according to Rose Phillips, independent Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist and clinical consultant at Southwest Human Development, “Impaired bonding and developmental delays can have far-reaching effects.”
Mothers suffering from postpartum depression report feeling detached from their new babies, battling anxiety, guilt or anger, and struggling with everyday activities. They often experience overwhelming sadness and have trouble concentrating.
While researchers do not fully understand the underlying causes of these symptoms, it is widely acknowledged that both biological factors and life circumstances play significant roles. This becomes especially concerning when mothers and newborns face additional complications, such as a stressful stay in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).
Adding to the complexity is the fact that although recent medical guidelines recommend proactive screening for depression in pregnant women and new mothers, not all physicians adhere to these recommendations.
Furthermore, many women and families fail to recognize the severity of the problem or underestimate its impact. At such a challenging time, seeking help can be a daunting task.
“The FDA’s approval of this new treatment option signifies progress,” Phillips affirmed. “However, it is critical that, as a community, we rally around new mothers and young families, providing them with a comprehensive range of programs that offer essential care, attention, and support needed for their well-being. At Southwest Human Development, there are more than 40 programs designed to support families during these crucial years.”