It might not seem as important as physical health, but the mental condition of the mother is important during pregnancy.
This was identified through several research studies highlighted in the journal The Lancet, which recently released a series of articles that emphasized the importance of mental health care for parents. Abandoning the mental health of the mother may have adverse consequences on the child.
One of the papers examined factors that increase the likelihood of prenatal anxiety, depression, and other psychological and mental disorders. Study lead author Louise Howard — who works as a professor of Women’s Mental Health at UK’s King’s College London under the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience — said that anticipation during childbirth can be a very difficult time for any parent. “The stigma around [pre] and postnatal mental illnesses can prevent people from getting the help they need. It’s important that people seek treatment promptly to prevent suffering and distress for the whole family,” Howard said in a news release.
Another study discovered a link between mental health issues of the parent and a higher risk of physical and psychological problems on the child. University of Oxford Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Unit chief Alan Stein said, “parents at risk of mental health disorders during or after pregnancy need to be identified early to try to prevent symptoms from affecting offspring.” Apart from the mental health of the mother, depression by the father may also affect development of the child.
Meanwhile, another research from the UK — this time from Cardiff University’s Medical Research Council Centre for Neuropsychiatric Genetics and Genomics — suggests that giving birth may lead to extreme mental disorders on the mother. Ian Jones, study lead author, said that the field is still wide open for further research in order “to understand what triggers psychotic episodes after childbirth so that we can predict women at risk and develop treatments that are safe to be administered for mother and baby.”
The series of articles suggests that identification and intervention are crucial in preventing negative effects on the parent and child due to mental disorders.