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Britney Spears is Pregnant!! ...Let's talk about Perinatal Depression

EEEEEEEE!!!! So happy for Britney Spears! I hope her AMA pregnancy goes super smoothly and she and her baby are healthy and happy!

When Britney announced her pregnancy on social media this week, she brought up that she had struggled with perinatal depression with her previous pregnancies. I appreciate when celebrities discuss health issues openly - especially mental health issues - because it shines a light on common problems that might not otherwise be so widely discussed or understood. Let's really look at what is going on with perinatal depression.


What is Perinatal Depression?

Perinatal depression includes major and minor depressive episodes that occur during pregnancy or in the first 12 months after delivery (postpartum depression), and is one of the most common medical complications during pregnancy/postpartum period. It affects one in seven women. It is important to identify perinatal depression because if left untreated, it can have devastating effects.

What are some symptoms of Perinatal Depression?


What are some risk factors for Perinatal Depression?

It is important to remember that perinatal depression can affect any woman no matter her circumstances, but there are some risks that lead to higher rates of perinatal depression:

 - History of anxiety or depression

 - High levels of stress and/or financial concerns

 - Unintended pregnancy

 - Domestic violence

 - Lack of social/relationship support

 - Traumatic birth experience

 - NICU admission for infant

 - Breastfeeding problems


How is perinatal depression diagnosed?

Perinatal depression often goes unrecognized because changes in sleep, appetite, and libido may be attributed to normal pregnancy and postpartum changes. In addition to health care providers not recognizing such symptoms, women may be reluctant to report changes in their mood. Therefore, it is important for obstetrician–gynecologists and other obstetric care providers to ask the pregnant or postpartum patient about her mood. And it is important as patients to bring it up! It is always ok to discuss how you are feeling.

There are several well-studied screening tools available online and in your doctor's office for depression. These can usually be administered in a few short minutes.


What are treatment options for Perinatal Depression?

Treatment for perinatal depression often includes therapy, medications, or a combination of the two. Your health care provider can help you determine what would be the best course of action for you.


What can family and friends do to help?

It is important to understand that depression is a medical condition that impacts the mother, the child, and the family. Spouses, partners, family members, and friends may be the first to recognize symptoms of perinatal depression in a new mother. Treatment is central to recovery. Family members can encourage the mother to talk with a health care provider, offer emotional support, and assist with daily tasks such as caring for the baby or the home.

Support or advocacy groups can offer a good source of support and information. One example of this type of group is Postpartum Support International.


If You Know Someone in Crisis:

R Ellen Eye, M.D., F.A.C.O.G. R Ellen Eye, MD, FACOG Rita Ellen Eye, MD is a board-certified OB/GYN physician who joined Premier OB-Gyn in 2014. Dr. Eye is originally from Potosi, Missouri, a small town near St. Louis (and she remains a loyal fan of the St. Louis Cardinals!). She graduated from her high school as Valedictorian. She attended Missouri University of Science and Technology, earning her Biological Sciences degree while graduating with Magna Cum Laude honors. She received her doctoral degree from the University of Missouri-Columbia in 2006. Dr. Eye went on to complete her residency in Obstetrics and Gynecology and was honored by being elected Chief Resident at the University of Oklahoma in Tulsa. She began her successful private practice in Texas where she lived and worked for four years before moving to Florida. She is married to husband Chet and a proud mom to a sweet daughter named Faith. Dr. Eye is board certified by the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

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