"Despite the fact that mothers want to turn to their pediatricians to talk about stress and depression, they fear being judged," says study co-author Amy Heneghan, MD, a Rainbow pediatrician and assistant professor of pediatrics at Case. "Our research shows how very important it is for the pediatrician and the mother to develop a trusting relationship so that she will have an opportunity to talk about things that cause family stress."
Postpartum depression occurs in up to 15 percent of all new moms. Symptoms can appear within days of the delivery and can persist for up to a year.
Researchers conducted focus groups with mothers of young children to learn how they felt about the stresses of parenting, their own mental health concerns, and how pediatricians might help them address those concerns. For many mothers of young children, the pediatrician is the only health professional they see with any regularity.
In the focus groups, women said they were open to talking with pediatricians about their problems - but said that a trusting relationship needs to be established first. Some women said they were reluctant to admit that they felt depressed, fearing that they would be judged as unfit mothers. The researchers used these and other findings to develop a guide to help mothers address their mental health needs.
"Pediatricians can be part of the solution for getting depressed moms the
treatment they need," Dr. Heneghan sa
Contact: Janice Guhl
University Hospitals of Cleveland