If you have depression or another mental health condition, you might worry at some point that you’ll never be able to have children. However, this is not the case for all people who have or are at risk for conditions like anxiety.
Women can make symptoms manageable through consistent treatments. And although current mental health issues before pregnancy and childbirth can definitely increase your chances for a condition called postpartum depression, there are ways to help prevent the condition or at least minimize the symptoms.
In the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), postpartum depression is considered to be an “unspecified depressive disorder” with peripartum onset. The onset of depressive symptoms would have to occur during pregnancy or within four weeks following childbirth to be considered peripartum depression.
So what puts you at risk for postpartum depression?
Dr. Linda Burke-Galloway, the author of “The Smart Mother’s Guide to a Better Pregnancy” said in an email that the following situations can be risk factors for postpartum depression:
1. “Women who experience marital conflicts.”
2. “Stressful life events in the past 12 months.”
3. “Lack of financial or emotional support from a partner or spouse.”
4. “Previous history of childcare related stressors.”
Women with those risk factors should be monitored closely if they decide to have children so they can be treated for any further mental health complications. She said currently there are no studies she’s aware of that show having a child would improve any previous mental health conditions.
“If the woman has anxiety about childcare issues, the answer would probably be no,” Burke-Galloway said. “Certainly women who have family support will fare better than women who don't.”
“In my own clinical practice, I have observed improvement of women who had mental disorders once the baby is born provided they have good family and partner support and are compliant in taking prescribed medicine,” she added.