The long-term psychiatric and medical prognosis of perinatal mental illness

Department of Psychiatry, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, NC, USA. Electronic address: .
Best practice & research. Clinical obstetrics & gynaecology (Impact Factor: 1.92). 08/2013; 28(1). DOI: 10.1016/j.bpobgyn.2013.08.009
Source: PubMed


The perinatal period provides an important window into a woman's long-term health. Perinatal mental illness is a common condition conferring potential serious long-term psychiatric and medical consequences for the mother and family. It is known that childbirth acts as a powerful trigger for depressive episodes in some women, and that women with histories of a mood disorder are particularly vulnerable. Some evidence links perinatal mental illness with obstetrical complications and reduced lactation initiation and duration. Therefore, perinatal mental illness may be a marker for long-term risk, and may contribute directly to subsequent cardiometabolic disease through both neuroendocrine mechanisms and the effects of mental illness on health behaviours. In clinical practice, these associations underscore the importance of screening and treating women with perinatal mental illness to ensure best possible long-term outcomes. Early screening and treatment may both mitigate the primary disease process and reduce the risk of comorbid medical conditions.

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