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Maternal mental health important

DEAR EDITOR:

For nine long months, new parents focus on bringing a healthy baby home from the hospital. But what about bringing home a healthy mom?

Postpartum depression is a mood disorder experienced by mothers that causes overwhelming feelings of sadness, anxiety and exhaustion. In combination to this disorder, suicide is among the leading cause of death in postpartum women according to the U.S National Library of Medicine. This silent killer has been proven a threat to the well-being of mothers. What can we do to improve maternal mental health?

A new article released by Today covered a story about Steven and Alexis D’Achille of Pittsburgh, who decided to start their journey as new parents. All of what was anticipated to be an amazing start to their new family turned out to be a tragedy. After the traumatic birth of their daughter, Alexis became detached and struggled with the day-to-day demands that a new infant brought forth. The couple visited multiple doctors, who assured them that she just had the “baby blues.” Just five short weeks after the birth, Alexis committed suicide.

To carry on her legacy, Steven D’Achille worked with Allegheny Health Network and Highmark Health in Pittsburgh to create the Alexis Joy D’Achille Center for Perinatal Mental Health. This facility is one of very few that specialize in postpartum mental health using a therapeutic program to provide continuity of care in the weeks following birth. Mothers are taught how to manage their anxiety in combination with programs that foster bonding between mother and infant.

Unfortunately, this story is not unique. Too many women suffer from this invisible disease, and a disparity of care is prevalent. There is an urgent need to expand this area of medicine to enhance the quality of life for our mothers.

SHANNON L. TROY

Boardman