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Mental Health Assignment



Statistics reveal that an estimated one million adults of the Australian population are diagnosed with depression annually (Luppa et al., 2012). Epidemiology and clinical studies associate depression with adverse mental and physical health issues which are significantly high among women than men. Women are more likely to be diagnosed with depression during pregnancy or child birth. According to Luppa et al., (2012) 16% of new mothers are affected by postnatal depression. Postpartum depression occurs as a result of the impacts that gender roles, family, and individuals caring responsibilities have on a woman. The ability of a woman to cope with the demands of being a new mother can impact a woman’s mental and physical functioning which inhibits her from responding appropriately to depression-related sicknesses.

Australian suicide rate has also risen over the last five years, whereby more males commit suicide through self-harm as compared to women. Suicide incidents among the male population in Australia are significantly high in the northeast part compared to other regions of the nation. The male population aged 15 to 34 years old is at a high risk of committing suicide as compared to the rest of the population (Qi et al., 2012). This essay will discuss the prevalence of depression among new mothers in Australia and the suicide rate among male teenagers and young adults.

Question 1

Depression among Pregnant Women

Depression is used to define the transient condition of a person whereby their moods fluctuate and interfere with the mental state leading to psychiatric disorders. Depression is identified as a condition that in on and off and can be triggered by the changes experienced in a person’s life. This condition is more evident at particular stages of a person’s life and can be driven by either genetic or biological factor (Byles et al., 2012). Moreover, depression is at times viewed as a person’s approach or response to significant life changes. Byles et al., (2012) explains that depression during pregnancy has adverse impacts on the health of a woman which further affects her quality of life. As a result, the social and role functioning of a new mother is interfered with making it a challenge for the mother to connect and care for her child. In Australia, 70% of mothers have a difficult time forming a positive maternal relationship with their first child the first few days following child birth (Rich et al., 2013). This depression mood may begin immediately after childbirth and can last up to at least ten days.

However, post natal depression lasts up to four or six weeks and includes various symptoms of depression. For instance, a mother may start developing disinterest in her baby, feelings of inadequacy, negative thoughts and irritability (Byles et al., 2012). Postnatal depression rates among Australian women vary depending on their location. 7.5% of Australian women experience depression six to eight weeks following child birth, 10.2% of this population is in Queensland and South Australia while 5.6% is from Western Australia (Rich et al., 2013). According to Rich et al., (2013), the prevalence rate of postnatal depression is relatively different among women from indigenous, culturally and linguistically diverse communities. For example, 18% of single mothers in Australia experience a high rate of depression as compared to only 8% of mothers with partners (Rich et al., 2013).

The transition period into motherhood places a woman at risk of being depressed. Moreover, women with a history of mental health issues or have family members with mental problems are at a higher risk of experiencing pregnancy related depression. As a result, these predisposition factors increase the likelihood of a person developing depression at later stages of their lives (Jeong et al., 2013). Jeong et al., (2013) states that high anxiety during the pregnancy period exposes a woman to great risk factors for depression. For instance, a study conducted by Mohamad Yusuff et al., (2015), revealed that women that have experienced antenatal anxiety are three times more likely to be depressed during pregnancy. Feelings of distress and the lack of positive care giving skills make it difficult for new mothers to deal with feelings of frustration and distress in circumstances whereby parenthood becomes challenging.

Maternal identity between a mother and their baby are influenced by environmental risk factors, the relationships formed between a mother and her partner and the family, and the psychological well-being of a mother (Lara-Carrasco et al., 2013). The elaboration and integration of these factors during and after pregnancy form a mental representation of the baby and that of the woman as a mother leading to anxiety. The tension developed during pregnancy and the transition period to motherhood distorts how a woman can respond to her baby. Consequently, the internalized emotional conflict that a mother has due to anxiety is a strong factor of antenatal and postnatal depression (Jeong et al., 2013). The inability of a mother to manage the negative emotions and cope with motherhood results to an unhealthy mother-child relationship which evokes feelings of inadequacy.

Suicide Rate among the Youth

Suicide is considered as a major public health issue in Australia with an annual average of 2000 suicide incidents reported since the mid-1900s. The suicide rate in Australia varies depending on the socioeconomic strata, geographic occupations and by the measure of urban-rural regions (Qi et al., 2012). Statistics show that suicide is among the leading causes of death in Australia for individuals between the ages of 15 and 44 years. In 2015, the suicide rate was at 12.6 per 100,000 in Australia which is equivalent to eight deaths by suicide daily. Although the suicide rate among males is three times greater compared to that of women, there has been a significant increase in the number of suicide cases among females in the past decade (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2015).

Suicide cases become common during adolescence and rapidly rise between the ages of 15 and 19 years and accelerate at the age of 20 to 24 years. Individual characteristics such as emotional well being and the social environment are identified as critical factors that contribute to suicide among young people. The majority of youth who have contemplated suicide have mental and emotional instability which develop to form psychiatric problems (CDC, 2015). Mental issues such as depressive disorders and substance abuse are identified as two of the main factors that contribute to the rising numbers of suicide among the youths. However, depression is the most prevalent condition, whereby young people history with depression and anxiety are associated with mental stress that increases the odds of suicide.

According to CDC (2015), suicide attempts are characterized by anxiety and the lack of impulse control by an individual. For young people the social environment impacts their mental well being immense which could cause depressive disorders. Adolescents who lack positive maladaptive coping abilities and interpersonal skills have limited capabilities to deal with negative life events hence consider suicide as the solution. Negative life events such as physical, emotional or sexual abuse and interpersonal losses act as stressors that are often overwhelming for young people to cope with. Moreover, problem solving difficulties present in the life of many youths lead to anxiety and depression makes it a challenge for them to appropriately respond to stressful life events.

Question 2: Case Study: Scenario B

From the case study, it is evident that Elizabeth has had to deal with depression during and after child birth. According to Verreault et al., (2014) changes in life events and perceived stress can have adverse effects during pregnancy leading to antenatal depression. In the case of Elizabeth, her pregnancy impacted her social life and relationship with her partner. Elizabeth feels inadequate as a mother and changes in her active social life before child birth puts a strain on her relationship with Zoe making it challenging for her to develop a positive maternal relationship. The changes and difficulties that Elizabeth has experienced during her pregnancy have become a stressful experience which is difficult for her to cope. The feelings of inadequacy that Elizabeth feels act as stressors which continue to trigger depressive and anxiety symptoms.

Another risk factor for Elizabeth’s case is her family history with depression. Jeong et al., (2013) and Lydsdottir et al., (2014), explain that antenatal depression is closely related to psychiatric illness within a family. Elizabeth mentions that her mother was depressed during her first pregnancy thus her depression can be hereditary. Therefore, history of mental health problems in her family could be a possible cause that makes it difficult for Elizabeth to form an optimal relationship with her baby.

Question 3: Ethical Principles of Beneficence and non-maleficence

Elizabeth presents risks to herself and others due to her depressive disorders she is a threat to herself and her baby. Ethical and legal consideration of health care requires that Elizabeth receives professional medical assistance that is unbiased. To ensure that Elizabeth does not harm her baby or those around her, physicians need to put treat her depression as an act of beneficence. Butts and Rich (2012) define beneficence as an act that is done to improve the situation of others by eliminating or preventing harm. Thus, improve the maternal care and surroundings of Zoe it is important that Elizabeth’s mental health problem is addressed with sufficient medical assistance.

As part of clinical applications, physicians are further expected to act in a non-maleficence, which means they should refrain from causing any harm. Hence the doctor is supposed to practice medicine with the aim of helping their patients and promote their welfare (Butts and Rich, 2012). As a result, physicians ought to measure the possible benefits and risks of action involved while administering health care services. For instance, despite Elizabeth being Zoe’s mother, it is imperative for Elizabeth to be taken away for medical assistance and remove Zoe from harm’s way. Therefore the act of beneficence, in this case, would be encouraging Elizabeth to seek professional help for the depressive disorders.

Question 4

Pregnancy makes a woman vulnerable during for the development of anxiety and depressive disorders. It is advisable for mid wives to identify any risk factors that may lead to depressive episodes among their patient and follow this up with appropriate medical assistance (Raisanen et al., 2014). Identifying these risk factors enables mid wives to assist their patients to come to terms with symptoms of antenatal and postnatal depression while preparing them on how to cope with the environmental and psychosocial changes. Correctly identifying the obstetric and pregnancy risk factors relative to antenatal anxiety and postnatal depression provides a midwife with the opportunity to identify beneficial preventive and supportive interventions for their patient.

Secondly, it is important for mid wives to introduce therapeutic assistance during clinical visits by pregnant patients. According to Pariante (2015), non-pharmacological treatments are effective in identifying risk factors for pregnant women as well as recognizing earlier symptoms of depression and anxiety. Introducing counseling as part of the clinical visits for pregnant women allows the midwife to monitor the mental and physical progress of the woman while implementing therapeutic interventions wherever necessary.

Question 5

The major mental health concern identified in the case study is maternal and paternal depression. In the case of Elizabeth, her depression is associated with the fact that her partner is not as present as he was before birth and the lack of an active social life. These changes have had adverse effects on Elizabeth’s maternal performance and mental well being causing anxiety and feeling of inadequacy. Jeong et al., (2013), affirms that social support assists a woman in coping with any negative emotions and stressors linked to pregnancy. Therefore midwives should offer not only medical assistance to their patients but also social support. Social support from professionals is an intervention that will prepare women to respond positively to child birth and the postpartum period.

Additionally, it is important that women are introduced to postpartum midwife non-pharmacological follow up activities. This way midwives are in a position to not only offer support to their clients but also guide their patients on the way in which to cope with mother hood and maternal depression. As a result, following child birth, a woman understands their mental state and is equipped with the ability to respond to depression or anxiety (Pariante, 2015).


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