Prevention of perinatal depression: Current status in Mexico

Session: Maternal Mental Health: Critical Steps in Prevention, Prevalence, and Treatment

Presenter: Asunción Lara, Instituto Nacional de Psiquiatría Ramón de la Fuente Muñiz
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Background: Perinatal depression is a common complication of childbearing in developed and developing countries. It is well documented that untreated depression is one of the leading causes of disability in women. Nevertheless, it has received very little attention in Mexico. This study seeks to explore: 1. the recognition of perinatal depression among pregnant and postpartum women; 2. the acceptance of various modalities of treatment for depression, and 3. the perception of the barriers to receive treatment.

Methodology: This descriptive, exploratory study included 41 women in the third trimester of pregnancy and 30 women between the fourth and sixth postpartum weeks. Participants were interviewed at a health center and a general hospital.

Results: Most women had heard about postpartum depression; one quarter did not know the causes of this disorder, and the rest attributed it to an inability to face new challenges, emotional and hormonal changes, and lack of social support. The majority considered that it is not easy to speak about their unhappiness or distress in this period, and that people would not understand if pre- or post-partum women felt sad or depressed at this time. Individual psychotherapy was the treatment with the highest level of acceptance, while medication, during pregnancy or breastfeeding, was the least accepted. The main barriers to treatment were: lack of time; institutional procedures; being unable to afford care and not having anyone to look after the children.

Conclusion: These results constitute a preliminary approach to the care needs for depression during the perinatal period in Mexico. Women’s awareness that help is required may not suffice to encourage them to seek assistance due to instrumental barriers and attitudes to treatment.