PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Depression during and after pregnancy is so common and a new report says pregnant women and new mothers should be screened more often. Kristin Bowles is a mother of two. When she had her son four years ago, she had concerns.
“Just feeling a lot more panic, difficulty sleeping, being able to shut my brain off,” said Bowles.
Kristin was eventually diagnosed with post-partum anxiety and prescribed medication.
“As a first-time mom, I wasn’t sure if those thoughts were normal versus not normal,” said Bowles.
A new report from the American Academy of Pediatrics aims to better identify mental health issues for moms before and after birth.
The group recommends screening once during pregnancy and then asks pediatricians to screen moms during infant well visits.
“Sadness, irritability, sleeplessness — I think the sleep deprivation that all new parents experience in the first few months after birth is certainly a risk factor for PPD,” said Dr. Michael Yogman.
The report says post-partum depression, if left untreated, can affect a child’s development and cause family relationship problems and doctors say diagnosing depression in fathers is also important.
“They may present a little differently with some symptoms because they are not as likely to admit sadness,” said Dr. Yogman.
Anxiety and depression often occur together. When Bowles was pregnant with her daughter, her psychologist followed her closely. She was also screened at her baby’s well visits.
“Women should be talking to each other and to their doctors and getting connected to the right supports. That only makes you a better mom, a better woman,” said Bowles.
She hopes reducing the stigma will make other women get the help they need.