Tue. Aug 9th, 2022

Dr. Simone Vigod says efforts to improve a pregnant woman’s mental health – before the baby is born – can have an “intergenerational impact”.

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Recognition Toronto Psychiatrist Dr. Simone Vigod receives for her research into the relationship between a pregnant mother’s mental well-being and her child coming at an appropriate time.

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Vigod says she is honored to be the recipient of the 2021 Royal-Mach-Gaensslen Award for Mental Health Research, awarded last week by The Royal Ottawa, “to an outstanding mental health researcher enabling future exploration and discovery. “

Vigod said in a telephone interview that although there has been ample research and research into the effects of postpartum depression, efforts to improve a pregnant woman’s mental health – before the baby is born – can have an “intergenerational impact.”

In a recently published study, Vigod, a senior researcher at the Women’s College Research Institute in Toronto, examined patterns in data over the previous four years regarding women seeking postpartum treatment, comparing it to nine-month data from the pandemic period beginning in March 2020.

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“We saw a 30 percent increase everywhere in the use of services for depression, anxiety and substance abuse from nine months of data from March 2020,” Vigod said.

“The greatest protective measures against developing mental illness after childbirth are social support and appropriate treatment and not having life stressors. So usually there can be grandparents, circles of friends and agencies and nurses who come to the home to help breastfeed or help provide that support and all these things were just absent.

“And with the added stress of potentially getting sick (with COVID-19),” Vigod said, “at one point our clinic received three times the (pre-pandemic) number of referrals.”

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Vigod’s research focuses on the unique life phase up to, during and after pregnancy, where mental illness poses risks to both parent and child. Despite recent advances in mental health research, she said, much work remains to be done to remove barriers to care.

“One of the main problems is very few women who are affected by mental health problems receive the treatment needed to get them better, and we know it will have a number of consequences for the mother,” Vigod said.

“It is at a time when she already has a growing fetus that can be directly affected by the mother’s mental health issues, whether it is stress related or because she is not sleeping well or eating well and we know that untreated mental illness during pregnancy can result in more complications and problems with a child’s development throughout life.

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The problem is that most women do not seek or receive treatment, and some of it has to do with shame and stigma, but part of it is that it is difficult to get specialized psychotherapy, and these resources are usually only found in large city ​​centers … it is not fair access across regions. ”

Vigod and her team are now recruiting nearly 600 women and following them through their pregnancies and through the postpartum phase to a large-scale study that Vigod said should lead to reduced postpartum depression and better outcomes for children.

The Royal-Mach-Gaensslen National Prize provides $ 100,000 in funding to Canadian researchers under the age of 45 who have demonstrated research achievements, expertise in scientific rigor, innovative thinking, imagination, originality and a clear ability to work in partnership with others. disciplines and research teams.

ahelmer@postmedia.com

Twitter.com/helmera

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