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1/12/2012 – Study: 30 Percent of Latinas suffer from Perinatal Depression

January 12, 2012 | 1 Comment

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In 2009, Postpartum Support International conducted a study that examined the incidence of Perinatal Mood Disorders among Latina women. The study found that around 32% of pregnant Latinas experience depressive symptoms congruent with PPMD, while 36% of pregnant Mexican females experience PPMD symptoms. This shocking number is nearly double the percentage of the general female population diagnosed with PPMD.

Statistical data in the PPMD field has clearly shown that a woman’s race or ethnicity does not determine whether she is more likely to get PPMD. Women of every race or ethnicity are equally at risk. So how is it that such a specific group has a much higher incidence rate of PPMD?

In order to understand how this is possible, we have to look at known risk factors for developing Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders. According to Karen Kleiman, author of Therapy and The Postpartum Woman, risk factors include (but are not limited to):

  1. Sensitivity to hormonal changes (History of significant PMS)
  2. Hormonal Imbalance
  3. Sleep Deprivation
  4. Family History of Depression
  5. Perfectionistic Personality Type (“control freak”)
  6. Previous History of Anxiety or Depression (or Bipolar, OCD, etc.)
  7. Obstetrical Complications
  8. An unsupportive spouse
  9. History of Trauma
  10. Moving to a new location
  11. Job change or loss
  12. Socioeconomic Stressors
  13. Lack of adequate support system (family and friends)

As a clinician who works with mostly Latina women, I am very much aware that risk factors numbers 8-13 on the above list are particularly prevalent among Latinas (though the others are often involved). Cultural implications unique to Hispanic families may contribute to the presence of these risk factors (such as traditional roles and expectations among men and women in marriage), as well as dynamics introduced during immigration: Immigration trauma, adaptation to foreign customs and a new language, employment and economic challenges, and barriers to accessing social and medical support. These are all elements that can be prevalent among Latinas, and can greatly increase a woman’s risk of developing PPMD.

What can we do to improve social support among Latinas with PPMD?

Since we know that social support and access to resources are important in combatting PPMD, we at HAS believe that one way to address these issues is to focus on increasing social connectivity and access to vital resources. Therefore, the PPD Program at HAS offers drop-in group therapy, which is particularly helpful to women who lack support at home. These groups offer opportunities for our participants to come together and share their experiences while developing bonds with others, and gaining information regarding helpful resources in the community. We currently offer both English and Spanish groups. If you, or someone you know would benefit from attending groups at the HAS PPD program, please call 773-292-4242.

1 Comment Post a comment
  1. Feb 11 2012

    written with hotnsey, grace, truth, and beauty. what a great encouragement this post will be to lots of mamas out there!


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