In a recent study conducted by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, one-third of women surveyed who were being treated for pregnancy related-depression reported a history of eating disorders. Many also reported physical or sexual abuse. Kimberly Dennis, M.D., medical director at Timberline Knolls Residential Treatment Center, says the study illustrates that eating disorders often devastate multiple generations.
"The eating disorders we treat in women at Timberline Knolls are very much family diseases, many times multi-generational," said Dr. Dennis. "A substantial proportion of our adolescent and adult women with eating disorders have mothers with full blown or subclinical eating disorders themselves. And most of these mothers have never received treatment."
Because one out of every ten pregnant women suffers from pregnancy-related depression, the potential negative impact and costs of these mental health issues are far-reaching. "This is an important study, and it's urgent that the healthcare community takes steps to address this serious problem," Dr. Dennis said. "Pregnancy is an especially critical time to intervene with women who suffer from eating disorders and trauma, since there is something bigger than themselves at stake. What many women would not do for themselves - specifically, seek treatment - they will do if necessary to take care of and protect their unborn child."
Understanding the warning signs and treating patients early on is vital when dealing with pregnancy-related depression. Mental health screening tools, including questions about eating disorders and abuse, should be incorporated into routine prenatal care so preventive measures can be taken. "We need to intervene, because when we don't it is passed on in one way, shape or form to the next generation," said Dr. Dennis. "It is not unheard of for us to treat multiple women with eating disorders and trauma from the same family at Timberline Knolls."
About Timberline Knolls Residential Treatment Center -Timberline Knolls is a leading private residential treatment center for eating disorders and substance abuse, with or without trauma, a dual diagnosis or co-occurring disorder. Expert treatment staff offers a nurturing environment of recovery for women and girls (ages 12 and older) on a wooded 43-acre campus in suburban Chicago. For more information on Timberline Knolls Residential Treatment Center, call us at 877.257.9611.