1st International RISEUP-PPD Conference “Peripartum Depression in the Context of Public Health Emergencies and Humanitarian Crises”
Pregnancy and the first year postpartum – referred to as the peripartum period – constitute a period of tremendous physiological, psychological, and social changes in women's lives. The transition to motherhood is increasing women’s vulnerability to the development of mental disorders; it is estimated that 1 in 5 women will develop mental health problems during pregnancy or within the first year postpartum. The most prevalent peripartum mental health problems are depression and anxiety, with a prevalence of up to 20% globally, while in some countries, prevalence of peripartum depression (PPD) is estimated to be even higher.
Peripartum depression (PPD), together with anxiety and trauma (referred to as common perinatal mental disorders) adversely affects the mother and her overall health and wellbeing, negatively impacts the infant’s health and development, disrupts the mother-infant dyad and family relationships, and overall, puts a strong burden on society as a whole. Additionally, research shows that many cases of postpartum mood disorders are undetected and therefore, untreated.
The mental health and wellbeing of expectant and new mothers may be even more fragile in the midst of the current pandemic of the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Two years into the pandemic, studies show that women have been profoundly and disproportionately affected by the health crisis, due to a high burden of care, unpaid domestic labour responsibilities, significant job insecurity, and exposure to domestic and gender-based violence. In addition, changes in prenatal care and childbirth protocols and practices have been implemented all over Europe. Emerging evidence shows that perinatal mental disorders have increased since the COVID-19 outbreak, suggesting that COVID-19 may place an additional burden on perinatal women, with potential adverse outcomes on their mental health.
The war crisis in Ukraine is anticipated to exacerbate existing mental health difficulties in women. Exposure to war and military violence can be profoundly traumatic for women, causing serious, albeit “invisible” wounds of war – including depression, anxiety, and PTSD. In addition, maternal mental disorders not only are debilitating conditions for mothers, they have a profound impact on the next generation. These conditions are associated with suboptimal growth and development of children, adverse obstetrical outcomes, and negative effects on mother-infant bond and attachment, with known negative ripple effects on child’s health and optimal development.
In light of this unprecedented crisis in maternal, the RiseupPPD COST Action, an EU-funded, international, interdisciplinary network dedicated to promoting women's health in the peripartum period and to achieving a more standardized and unified approach in recognizing, treating, and preventing peripartum depression (PPD), is hosting its first International Conference titled “Peripartum Depression in the Context of Public Health Emergencies and Humanitarian Crises.” We are bringing together an interdisciplinary team of experts in the field of perinatal mental health. We hope to contribute to a better understanding of PPD in hope to reduce the costs related to poor perinatal health and prevent the intergenerational transmission of adversity and trauma.