Mothers and mental health

By Anna Yee

May 10, 2013 Updated May 10, 2013 at 10:28 PM CDT

PEORIA, Ill. -- We are near the end of National Children's Mental Health Awareness week, but that shouldn't stop adults from being aware of their mental health status year-round.

Dr. Alisha Hudson, an OSF Medical Group psychiatrist, says women are more likely to develop mental illnesses, due, in part, to changing hormone levels.

Dr. Hudson also says women who are pregnant, postpartum, or menopausal are at greater risk for mood disorders.

She says when it comes to seeking medical help, the earlier, the better.

"Sometimes these symptoms may be distressing for women to the point where they may not feel comfortable telling their obstetrician or pediatrician about the symptoms," said Dr. Hudson, "and it's very important that they obtain some sort of help very early on to help them try to prevent any further worsening."

"One of the metaphors I use a lot for my patients is to think of themselves in an airplane," continued Dr. Hudson. "If the airplane is going down, the stewardess is going to tell you to first put the air mask on yourself before you can help others... If you don't attend to the needs of the woman or the mother in the family, other sorts of things can suffer."

Dr. Hudson also recommends that women set aside a few minutes each day for themselves, get at least five hours of sleep a night, and establish a good support network for optimal mental health.

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