National Maternal Depression Awareness Month 2023

May is marked as National Maternal Depression Awareness Month. Maternal depression is a significant public health crisis worldwide, affecting both mothers’ well-being and children’s development. As per the National Library of Medicine, around one in every seven pregnant women and one in every five postpartum women are at risk of developing a depressive disorder. 

As a society, we tend to romanticize the idea of motherhood. While being fulfilling and special for every woman, motherhood is certainly not easy. It comes with its own set of challenges and issues, which are often ignored or not catered to by most people. National Maternal Depression Awareness Month is a powerful opportunity to shed light on these challenges and provide a supportive environment to mothers worldwide.

In this post, we will dive deeper into the importance of National Maternal Depression Awareness Month and understand the types of maternal depressive disorders and related treatment options.

National Maternal Depression Awareness Month

The Origins Of National Maternal Depression Awareness Month

National Maternal Depression Awareness Month was first started by Susan Stone in 2008. Susan Stone is the founder of a non-profit organization, Perinatal Pro, which works toward supporting the mental health of pregnant women. The month-long event soon became a global phenomenon that helped raise awareness around maternal depression and advocate for proper treatment options for affected women. 

Why Is National Maternal Depression Awareness Month Important?

Despite its high prevalence, maternal depression is often termed baby blues and discarded. However, it is a serious mental health concern that needs immediate medical, policy, and social efforts to change the condition of mothers around the world. At the center of this movement of bringing change lies National Maternal Depression Awareness Month. 

The event helps raise awareness about the various forms of depression affecting mothers. This information equips people to identify the signs and symptoms of such disorders and find timely help. Timely help prevents long-term negative impacts on the mother and child. 

Additionally, by promoting these conversations, National Maternal Depression Awareness Month also allows open and honest discussions on important topics. It reduces the stigma attached to maternal depression and provides a more supportive and empathetic environment to affected mothers.

Now that you know the importance of National Maternal Depression Awareness Month, let us dive into the types of depressive disorders affecting pregnant women.

Depressive Disorders During And After Pregnancy 

1. Prenatal Depression

Prenatal is a form of depressive disorder that affects women during the course of their pregnancy. Just like postpartum depression, it affects one in seven women. The prevalence of the disorder is even higher in economically vulnerable groups.

Symptoms of prenatal depression:

  • anxious thoughts or excessive worrying,
  • feeling overwhelmed or hopeless,
  • having sleeping issues,
  • racing thoughts,
  • anger,
  • lack of interest in activities that previously made you happy,
  • having trouble focusing or concentrating on things, 
  • participating in unsafe activities for the child, like smoking, drinking, etc.

Read more: Pregnancy And Infant Loss Awareness Month – You Are Not Alone In This

2. Postpartum Depression

Postpartum depression is a depressive disorder that affects women after the birth of the child, generally within the first four weeks. It is usually confused with baby blues. However, unlike the symptoms of baby blues that usually fade within a few days, the symptoms of postpartum depression are much more intense and tend to last longer.

Symptoms of postpartum depression:

  • having difficulty bonding with the child,
  • excessive crying,
  • intense anger or irritability,
  • feeling like you are not a good mother,
  • withdrawing from social interactions with friends and family,
  • having severe anxiety and panic attacks, 
  • having thoughts about self-harm, etc.

Treatment Options 

Various treatment options are available for depressive disorders during and after pregnancy.

These include the following:

1. Psychotherapy: It is an effective treatment trajectory for mild to moderate depressive disorders. Cognitive-behavioral therapy and interpersonal therapy are used to help affected individuals.

2. Medication: Certain forms of medications, like antidepressants, are also prescribed to help alleviate the symptoms. They are often used in collaboration with psychotherapy and lifestyle changes to provide the best results. 

Read more: Best Online Therapy Platforms


National Maternal Depression Awareness Month is marked every May to highlight new mothers’ mental health struggles. It aims to generate awareness about the disorders affecting new mothers and provide them with adequate treatment options and support.

Apart from depression, there are other mental health issues affecting pregnant women. To know more about them, click here.

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