Suicide risk among pregnant women and new mothers

Suicide risk among pregnant women and new mothers

Motherhood is an overwhelming period of life that generates varied emotions ranging from immense affection to extreme fear.  Besides giving birth to a baby, there are other challenges of motherhood as well. It usually includes a list of mental conditions, such as mental distortions, depression, anxiety, hallucinations, blues and other issues.

It is essential to understand other critical phases of motherhood, such as antepartum and postpartum phases, which incite depressive thoughts. During these phases, depression is often an uninvited guest that tends to seize one’s mind without a warning.

Maternal depression is a major risk factor for the development of mental health problems in a child. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), depression, which scores quite high on the list of most common mental health disorders, has clenched the minds of more than 300 million people worldwide.

Analysis of suicide among new mothers

As per the findings of a 2010 study, after evaluating suicide data from the unique National Violent Death Reporting System (NVDRS) introduced in 2003, around 37 percent of women in the age group of 15 to 44 years had the history of suicide from 2003 to 2007. Almost everyone reported to be suffering from mental disorders.

Of all, mood disorder is one of the leading mental diseases that affects 95 percent of women and almost half of them were known to be suffering from depression before taking a life-threatening step like suicide.

With depression as the greatest burden for women worldwide and childbearing years being one of the potent periods, vulnerability toward the recurrence of major depressive disorder has increased immensely, posing a serious health concern. Unfortunately, due to lack of awareness, people often fail to understand that pregnancy is closely associated with the onset and course of depression during the reproductive events.

Although a number of social, psychological, cultural and other factors incite suicidal tendencies in a person, the stigma and prejudices surrounding mental disorders and suicide often restrain people from seeking help. Despite numerous effective measures by the government and policymakers to decrease the number of preventable deaths due to suicide, it has kept increasing with time.

Suicidal tendencies among pregnant and postpartum women

Perinatal phase witnessed just after giving birth to a child is considered a challenging period. It is associated with mental disorders, such as postpartum depression, bipolar disorder or postpartum psychosis. Additionally, there is a higher risk of suicidal ideation, suicide attempt or suicidal tendencies during this period. The majority of women seeking prenatal care are not screened for perinatal depression and are at a higher risk to commit suicide.

Depression, one of the striking mental health issues, is quite common among the expecting mothers. A 2012 study published in the journal General Hospital Psychiatry, found that nearly 30 percent of pregnant women with depression had experienced suicidal tendencies, but the rate of suicide completion appeared to be lower among pregnant women compared to others. Dr. Katherine J. Gold, leading researcher, author and assistant professor of family medicine at the University of Michigan Medical School, stated that depression and substance use are risk factors for everyone, including pregnant and postpartum women.

Besides the risk of suicide due to a severe episode of hopelessness, maternal depression also affects severely the neonatal physiology of the mother. Untreated maternal mood disorders have been associated with an elevated risk of lower birth weight, premature delivery, impaired fetal placental function, and low fetal growth and perinatal problems.

Prevention strategies for suicide

Suicide prevention efforts require collaborative, comprehensive, integrated and synergistic effort among different sections of the society. Depression is one of the life-disruptive diseases affecting millions of people worldwide. Therefore, it is essential to seek treatment that includes a combination of diagnosis, biophysical assessment, medications, experiential therapies and recovery management.

If you or your loved one is struggling with depression, it is advisable to seek professional help. The Texas Depression Treatment Help can help connect to the best depression treatment centers in Texas that offer a holistic approach to treatment with evidence-based recovery plans. You may call us at our 24/7 helpline number 866-827-0282 or chat online for more information about the state-of-the-art treatment centers for depression in Texas.