Actually getting your family mental health history can be challenging however. Many families are not comfortable discussing this topic. Especially in older generations, a formal psychiatric diagnosis may not be available, due to a lack of awareness and treatment options. However, because the symptoms of mood disorders are so profound, there is likely some understanding of which family members have struggled with mental illness.
How much does a family history of mood disorders increase risk of PMDs? In one study, 53.3% of the women with a family history of postpartum depression, whereas only 11.8% of the women without a family history developed PPD.
If you are pregnant or in the postpartum period, knowing about family mental health history is just as important as knowing your family history of diabetes, pre-eclampsia, or postpartum hemorrhage. Also remember to share your own mental health experiences with your own children when they are old enough to need and understand this information. This will not only empower your children to care for their own mental health, but it will help prevent the stigma of mental illness for future generations.
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