Perinatal period & Women Mental Health

The perinatal is the period that commences at 22 completed weeks (154 days) of pregnancy and ends seven completed days after birth. Perinatal and mother’s mental health are closely linked.

During this period there is a very rapid fluctuation in hormonal levels in women. And, most of these hormones (chemicals secreted by glands and circulating in the blood) have a psychoactive effect that is they affect the functioning of psyche or brain.

Other then the hormonal changes there are many other rapid changes that are happening in the the women’s body and in her outside environment which make her very very vulnerable to develop perinatal mental health conditions.

Most commonly seen emerging or flaring of mental health symptoms during perinatal are that of anxiety, obsessive compulsive symptoms, dissociation, depression and psychosis and sometimes mania. Postpartum there is high risk for vulnerable women to develop post partum depression or post partum depression. These are severe mental health conditions which affect not only the physical and mental health of mother but are known to adversely the child lifelong.

Milder symptoms do not require medications and are manageable with strengthening in the social support system, simple talking therapies. More severe symptoms require medications and at at times hospitalisations.

It is believed in many cultures and communities still that peripartum distressing behavioral symptoms are due to demons or bad spirits. This is a myth and needs to be shaken and replaced with the true facts. It is time now to do so.

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