Teen Moms and Perinatal Depression

mom and daughter laughing

Pomegranate was a sponsor/exhibitor at the Mental Health America Franklin County Fall Conference on Maternal Mental Health and Perinatal Depression. Speaker Birdie Gunyon Meyer, RN, MA, CLC  was the primary presenter.  PSI, Postpartum Support International focuses on perinatal mood disorders.  The organization was founded in 1987 by Jane Honikman, MS and is a global network ‘dedicated to increase awareness of mental health related to childbearing. This is the only worldwide organization representing support groups that play a significant role in prevention and treatment of maternal mental illness.’  It is essentially about ‘mothering the mother’ according to the speaker/s.  View an educational DVD called ‘Healthy Mom, Happy Family’ at  http://postpartum.net/Resources.aspx or call 1-800-944-4773 for more information.

Depression is the number one medical complication related to child-bearing and up to 23% of pregnant women experience moderate to severe symptoms of depression and/or anxiety. PMAD stands for Perinatal Mood (depression and bipolar), Anxiety (GAD, panic, OCD, PTSD), Disorders.  There are many myths and facts associated with pregnancy along with unrealistic expectations, and both psychological and physiological changes. In recent years we’ve heard from public figures like Brooke Shields and through her book, ‘Down Came the Rain.’  Pregnant teens may experience barriers to utilizing support, Gunyon-Meyer explained.  Research by Clemmens, Paskewicz and Matern shows teens may be in denial, or not get adequate pre-natal care; feel isolated, abandoned and rejected by partners and peers and of course feel scared.  Postpartum, a woman often experiences feelings of loss.  This might be from loss of: freedom, old identity, sense of control, body image, career/potential, or self-esteem; all magnified in a teen mom.

According to Gunyon-Meyer, ‘Some 750,000 Teenage women age 15-19 become pregnant in the US each year; 11% of all births are to teens and almost half experience depressive symptoms in early postpartum period. Prevalence of depressive symptoms at 3 months was 36.7%.’  Significantly, ‘Almost 90% of those who reported depressive symptoms at 4 years postpartum had experienced these symptoms at 12 months postpartum.’   There are many effects of PMADs on a teen mother which include stressed relationships and disruption of school and work plans. For as much as some shows/the media glamorize motherhood and ‘her baby bump’, this is a side to motherhood which is un-appreciated, and not understood.

There is a role conflict between responsibilities to one’s child and one’s self as well as fear of an unknown future. Additionally, ‘there is stigma. Studies of inner city teens include crying, feeling of being punished, sadness, guilt, self-criticism, feeling like a failure, anxiousness, panic, tired . . . ‘ according to a study by Shanok and Miller, cited by Gunyon-Meyer.   Support from parents and learning new skill sets through multi-disciplinary treatment is helpful.  The thorough presentation covered treatment approaches to help process feelings of loss, alienation and rejection as well as medical and pharmacological interventions.  The pharmacological section stressed there are the risks of NOT treating and the benefit of treatment- to both mother and fetus.  Evidence-based therapeutic approaches include cognitive behavioral therapy, dialectical behavioral therapy, interpersonal psychotherapy, peer support, psycho-educational group therapy and mother-infant therapy and education.  It’s important to bond with baby; and good to know that help is available.


Hope . . . Joy (and a Few Little Thoughts) for Pregnant Teens by Rachel Brinoni, 2008

Teen Pregnancy: Teenage Pregnancy Support: Advice for Parents and Teens 2014 by Phebe Pearson

Pregnancy: The Essential Teen Pregnancy Guide: All-In-One Advice for Anxious Teens 2015 by Susan Hart

[article by P.A. Rodemann; photo credit by GEOGOZZ posted April 2015 to Wikimedia Commons under Creative Commons Attribution]


About Communications

Communications and Social Media @ Sequel-Pomegranate Health Systems
This entry was posted in adolescent psychiatry, mental health, pediatric psychiatry, psychiatric care and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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