Women and Postpartum Depression

For 1 in 8 women, new motherhood is anything but joyous – Health.com

Mother In Nursery Suffering From Post Natal Depression

Postpartum depression is a very real and very serious problem for many mothers. It can happen to a first time mom or a veteran mother. It can occur a few days… or a few months after childbirth – Richard J. Codey

Recently on the news I saw that Drew Barrymore admitted that she suffered from postpartum depression after she had her second daughter.  It was a short-lived experience.  It lasted about six months. She was grateful for the experience because it was a constant reminder to stay present in the moment.  Her motto was, “one thing at a time.”

I have heard quite a bit about postpartum depression but this time I wanted to educate myself about it and my heart was touched by the experiences women go through.  First of all, I want to point out that it’s a real and serious condition.   I was appalled at how women with postpartum depression were treated.  Stigma, disbelief and lack of support from others prevent them from getting the treatment they desperately need.  So, they suffer in silence.  How terrible it is for a woman who has images of her child drowning in the bathtub or being smothered on his burp cloth, fearing for her sanity but is afraid to say anything so she keeps it from her husband for as long as she could. And how sad it is that a woman should feel judged for taking antidepressants for postpartum depression because of the mistaken belief that depressed mothers are self-centered and weak.

Women who have postpartum depression feel a triple whammy of the stigma reserved for people with mental illnesses.  Not only are they brought down by what many expect to be the happiest even in a woman’s life–the birth of a child–but also total honesty about their emotional state could invite scorn or even a visit from social services (Health.com).  

“We’re suffering from an illness that cannot be seen.  We don’t have a fever, swelling, vomiting, or diarrhea.  No open wounds that will not heal–at least not the kind you can see with the naked eyes.  So, many wonder if we’re really sick at all – Katherine Stone

Psychologist Shoshana Bennett, founder and director of Postpartum Assistance for Mothers endured two life-threatening postpartum depressions in the mid-1980s, at the time when help for women in her condition was hard to find.  “I was quite suicidal.  My doctor told me to go and get my nails done,” Bennett recalls.  Can you imagine going to your doctor because you are feeling suicidal and being told to go and get your nails done?  It didn’t help that she had an unsympathetic mother-in-law who, believe it or not, had been a postpartum nurse for years.  The mother-in-law had given birth to five children and had not suffered from baby blues with any of them.  When Bennett’s husband asked his mother what was wrong with his wife, her response was, “She’s spoiled.  It’s not just about her anymore.”

Bennett’s husband was angry, confused and upset with her.  Bennett hated herself and things got worse after her first child was born.   She was 40 pounds overweight and very depressed.  She went to her ob-gyn for help.  When she told him, “If life’s gonna be like this, I don’t wanna be here.”  His response?  He laughed and said that all women go through this.  So, there was Bennett, suffering from postpartum depression, with no support or help.  It was her own experience that motivated her to become a licensed therapist, specializing in postpartum depression so that she could counsel women who are going through what she did.

Sometimes women are given medications with terrible side effects.  Katherine Stone experienced this when the first psychiatrist she went to treated her with four or five medications.  She had to find a practitioner who specialized in the treatment of postpartum mental disorders.  She discovered the hard way that no all psychiatrists are experts in treating postpartum depression. “So many psychiatrists don’t understand the condition, don’t have the tools to treat this, and aren’t trained in varying ways in which women with this disorder need to be cared for,” she says.

It is recommended that you ask your ob-gyn, nurses and social workers if the hospital in which you delivered offers postpartum depression services or sponsors support groups for new moms. Ruta Nonacs, MD, Associate Director of the Center for Women’s Health at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, recommends, “Call Postpartum Support International (800-944-4773) to find a support group near you.  I also recommend seeing your family doctor.  They’re treating people with depression all the time and can also help with referral to a therapist.”

How can you tell that you have postpartum depression?  There are three postpartum conditions – baby blues, depression and psychosis.  Here are the symptoms outlined by Mayo Clinic:

Postpartum baby blues symptoms

Signs and symptoms of baby blues — which last only a few days to a week or two after your baby is born — may include:

  • Mood swings
  • Anxiety
  • Sadness
  • Irritability
  • Feeling overwhelmed
  • Crying
  • Reduced concentration
  • Appetite problems
  • Trouble sleeping

Postpartum depression symptoms

Postpartum depression may be mistaken for baby blues at first — but the signs and symptoms are more intense and last longer, eventually interfering with your ability to care for your baby and handle other daily tasks. Symptoms usually develop within the first few weeks after giving birth, but may begin later — up to six months after birth.

Postpartum depression symptoms may include:

  • Depressed mood or severe mood swings
  • Excessive crying
  • Difficulty bonding with your baby
  • Withdrawing from family and friends
  • Loss of appetite or eating much more than usual
  • Inability to sleep (insomnia) or sleeping too much
  • Overwhelming fatigue or loss of energy
  • Reduced interest and pleasure in activities you used to enjoy
  • Intense irritability and anger
  • Fear that you’re not a good mother
  • Feelings of worthlessness, shame, guilt or inadequacy
  • Diminished ability to think clearly, concentrate or make decisions
  • Severe anxiety and panic attacks
  • Thoughts of harming yourself or your baby
  • Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide

Untreated, postpartum depression may last for many months or longer.

Postpartum psychosis

With postpartum psychosis — a rare condition that typically develops within the first week after delivery — the signs and symptoms are even more severe. Signs and symptoms may include:

  • Confusion and disorientation
  • Obsessive thoughts about your baby
  • Hallucinations and delusions
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Paranoia
  • Attempts to harm yourself or your baby

Postpartum psychosis may lead to life-threatening thoughts or behaviors and requires immediate treatment.

For more information such as when to see a doctor, what your options are or how you can help a friend or a loved one, click on this link.

Why do some women suffer from postpartum depression while others don’t?  According to Marcie Ramirez, Middle Tennessee coordinator for Postpartum Support International, “People with a history of mental illness have a high risk, as do people on either end of the age spectrum–young mothers or older mothers.  If you have a history of minor depression, panic attacks, or OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder), you are at a higher risk for postpartum depression.  A mother who experiences a traumatic birth is more likely to develop postpartum depression, as are new mothers who have a history of sexual abuse.  Bipolar disorder is a big indicator for postpartum psychosis, a very serious form of postpartum depression that affects about 1 to 2 out of every 1,000 new moms.”

Other predictors of postpartum depression are:

  • marital difficulties
  • stressful life events such as financial problems or loss of a job
  • childcare stress
  • inadequate social support
  • having to are for a child with a difficult temperament
  • low self-esteem
  • unplanned or unwanted pregnancy
  • being single
  • lower socioeconomic status
  • postpartum blues (Babycenter.com)

An article in the Daily Mail says that a woman’s risk of post-natal depression increases if she has a Caesarean section.  According to researchers, women were 48 per cent more likely to experience depression if they had a planned procedure rather than an emergency one.  Some women choose to have a Caesarean because they are afraid to give birth naturally, have had a previous childbirth trauma or want the convenience of a scheduled delivery.

Postpartum depression should be taken seriously.  Women are so overcome with fear and anxiety that they are afraid to be in the same room with their babies.  This affects them being able to bond with their babies which is vital to their development.  Women need to talk about their feelings, no matter how painful they are.  They need the support of their husbands and families.  “A functioning, healthy mom is vital to the family unit, and getting mothers with postpartum depression professional help can ensure that they avoid years of needless depression,” says Ramirez.

Advice for mothers who are experiencing depression is, “do what’s best for yourself so you can do what’s best for your baby” (Health.com).    Ann Dunnwold, PHD, a Dallas-based psychologist who specializes in postpartum depression, says, “The key is to have it on your own terms.  Sometimes the mother-in-law will come over to be with the baby, but what the new mom needs is for her to do the laundry.  To help, everyone needs to ask themselves what the mom really wants.”

There is hope for women suffering from postpartum depression.  The key is finding a health professional who specializes in treating it and who won’t brush you off or make light of it.  There are medications and treatments that can relieve or even reverse postpartum mood disorders. Don’t wait to get help.  Don’t suffer in silence.  Speak up.

If you know a woman who is going through postpartum depression or are married to one, please help out as much as you can.  Make sure that she gets enough sleep and encourage her to speak with her healthcare provider.  Encourage her to get some kind of support.

If you are suffering from postpartum depression, here is a list of postpartum depression support groups.  Perhaps reading stories of mothers going through what you are going may help. You’re not alone.   Help and hope are available for you.

Mature woman gives solace to crying adult daughter

Mature woman gives solace to crying adult daughter

Sources:   http://celebritybabies.people.com/2015/10/21/drew-barrymore-postpartum-depression-people-cover/?xid=rss-topheadlinesMayo Clinic; Baby Center; Postpartum Depression Progress; Health.com; Daily Mail; Brainy Quotes; Healthscope

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Wife Despises Husband

michal2I was reading the account of King David bringing the Ark of the Covenant into the city of Jerusalem and how this time the ark was carried the correct way by the Levites who had to sanctify themselves first.

It was a momentous occasion, the ark coming into the city of David.  The king was beside himself with joy.  While he was leading the procession, his wife Michal looked out of the window and saw him.  When she saw him leaping and whirling before the Lord, she was filled with contempt.  She despised him in her heart.  Why?

Unaware of the negative feelings he had stirred in his wife, David offered burnt offerings and peace offerings before the Lord and when he was done, he blessed the people in Lord’s name. Then he distributed a loaf of bread, a piece of meat, and a cake of raisins to all of the people who happily departed to their homes.  Everyone was in a celebratory mood except Michal.

When David returned to bless his household, she came out to meet him.  I can just imagine the expression on her face. There was no warm welcome.  No embrace.  No hello kiss. Nothing except contempt.  Instead of a word of greeting, she weighed in on him, her voice dripping with sarcasm and distaste, ““How glorious was the king of Israel today, uncovering himself today in the eyes of the maids of his servants, as one of the base fellows shamelessly uncovers himself!”  She was not only objecting to his dancing but to his dress.  He had set aside his royal robes and was a linen ephod.  Her remark implies that he was indecently dressed but according to 1 Chronicles 15:27, in addition to wearing the ephod, David was clothed in a fine linen robe like the Levites who carried the ark.  He was dressed for a very special occasion. 

In his defense, David’s responded, It was before the Lord, who chose me instead of your father and all his house, to appoint me ruler over the people of the Lord, over Israel. Therefore I will play music before the Lord.  And I will be even more undignified than this, and will be humble in my own sight. But as for the maidservants of whom you have spoken, by them I will be held in honor.”

It’s safe to say that this marriage fell apart after this.  How could David respond to a wife who despised him for dancing before the Lord?  Perhaps David would have appreciated a wife like that of Phinehas, the son of the High priest Eli. She was devastated when her husband and his brother took the Ark and it was captured by the Philistines.  She declared in her distress, “The glory has departed from Israel, for the ark of God has been captured.”  She would have rejoiced when David returned with the ark.  The return of the ark seemed to be the last thing on Michal’s mind.

We learn that Michal never had children.  This probably means that David never had marital relations with her again.  She died a bitter and barren woman.

Do you think Michal had a legitimate reason for the way she felt towards David?  Was the way he was dressed the real reason for her resentment or was there something else?

Michal had once been deeply in love with David and had saved his life by helping him to escape from her father, Saul.  While David was in exile, Saul gave Michal in marriage to another man.  During those years of separation from David, Michal heard of his other wives and their children.  How she must have felt.  After years of waiting for him to come back and claim her, her hopes were dashed until her love for him began to turn to bitterness.

There is no indication that David loved Michal.  We only read that, “Michal Saul’s daughter loved him” (1 Samuel 18:20, 28).  It pleased David to be Saul’s son-in-law (verse 26) as opposed to be pleased that Michal was to be his wife.  And after Saul’s death, David went to claim her as his wife not because he loved her but because, “I was betrothed for one hundred Philistine foreskins.”  He still wanted to be the former king’s son-in-law and it didn’t matter that Michal was now married to Paltiel who loved her.  When she was taken from him, he went with her, weeping as he went, as far as Bahurim and then he was told to turn back.  Did Michael resent David for coming back into her life after so much time had passed and abusing his power as king to break up her marriage?  What about all those other wives he had?  What did he need with her now when he hadn’t bothered to come back for her when she desperately wanted him to?

Should David have tried to understand how Michal was feeling?  Should he have been more patient and sensitive?  After all she had been his first wife and now she was one of many.  I can sympathize with Michal.  When she rebuked him, what should David have done?  Should he have responded in anger?  Should he have said what he said?  What if he had said, “I was dancing before the Lord who has been gracious to me by appointing me rule over His people.”  He didn’t have to remind her that God had chosen him instead of her father.  He could have left out the part about being undignified and that he would rather have the female servants’ admiration than her respect.  What if he had said, “I’m sorry you thought I was acting shamelessly but I was dancing before the Lord with gladness because the ark of the Lord is with us.”  Perhaps this gentle response might have made a difference.  Perhaps not. 

Has your husband done something that rubbed you the wrong way?  Did it change the way you related to him or thought of him?  Did it make you lose your respect for him?  Did you ask yourself if you had good reasons for feeling this way?  If the answer is no, then let it go.  Remember the things about him that made you fall in love with him in the first place.  Ask God to help you to let go of the resentment and bitterness and all of the emotions that are preventing you from loving your husband.  If the answer is yes, then ask God to help you to work through this and to give your husband the support he needs.  He doesn’t need your condemnation.  He needs your love and forgiveness.  Give him time.  Give your marriage a chance to heal.

Before Tying the Knot…

If you are dating and you’re thinking, “He could be the one”, there are a few things you ought to seriously consider before you think about tying the knot.

Are you compatible? If he is a hardworking man and you are lazy, it won’t work.  Right now you are living apart but when you get married and he ends up doing all of the cleaning up and you are not carrying your weight, your marital bliss will soon fizzle.

Can you cook?  If he is a man who loves good food you have to know how to cook.  A pastor I know married a woman who couldn’t cook.  He taught her how to and she does all the cooking now.  She must have had other qualities that he couldn’t live without.

Are you frugal?  If he is a man who likes to save money, a wife who is a spendthrift will not work for him.  When things get tight, he would like to know that you can also be frugal and understanding.

Are you hiding anything?  Is there something about you or your family that he needs to know about?  Do not enter into marriage without being totally honest.

Marriage is a very big step.  Make sure you are ready to take it.

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