Over 30 percent of Latinas in the United States suffer from mental illnesses related to childbirth and rates of depression among the group continue to rise, according to a women's reproductive mental health organization.

In a 2009 study, which investigated the prevalence of depressive symptoms and their associated risk factors during pregnancy in Latinas in the United States and Mexico, prevalence of depressive symptoms was over 32 percent for pregnant Latinas and over 36 percent for Mexicans, said Postpartum Support International (PSI).

"The statistics for Latinas suffering from mental illness related to childbirth and untreated depression continue to climb; and, depression continues to be the number one complication of pregnancy. We know many of these new mothers are not asked about feeling depressed or anxious during their pregnancy by a health care provider," said Dr. Lucy Puryear, president, Postpartum Support International.  "Our hope is to reach as many families and clinicians working in support of mothers and babies in this very important segment of our population."  

Another study conducted in 2005 concluded that Hispanic women have higher rates of depression than non-Hispanic women, but are less likely to be diagnosed as depressed. The study states that the lifetime prevalence of depression among the overall Latino population  is 37 percent, which is 12 percent higher than in the general population.

When a woman is able to become adequately informed, screened or treated for maternal depression, not only is her individual suffering alleviated but the chances for positive outcomes for her baby and entire family are greatly improved,” Puryear added.

Postpartum depression is classified as moderate to severe depression in a woman after she has given birth.

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