Archives for September 2009

Postpartum Depression Is an International Illness

I know this is really of no consequence, but can I just say how totally cool it is to see where my readers are coming from on Google Analytics. It’s mostly the US, the UK, Australia and Canada of course, but rounding out the top 10 this last month includes India, Israel, Belgium and Germany. And in the last 30 dayspeople have visited Postpartum Progress from Ireland, Pakistan, Italy, Hungary, the Netherlands, Egypt, South Africa, France and from many more corners of the globe. Even 300+ people from the Phillipines came to this site! Who knew?!

I just want to say a big hello to all of my readers from elsewhere around the world. I’m so glad to have you here and I know that women suffer from postpartum depression no matter where they are in the world.

No matter where you are from, I hope you find some helpful resources here, as well as some comfort and hope here. I also hope that you feel comfortable sending me news about postpartum depression from your country. If you’re having a major conference, know of new research, are aware of support groups, specialized treatment programs,or have any other news about how women with these illnesses are treated in your country, PLEASE share them with us. You can email me any time at

UK's Royal College of Psychiatrists Site Shares Short Documentary on Postnatal Depression

Check out this 5-minute documentary on postnatal depression from the Royal College of Psychiatrists in the United Kingdom. It's called "Over My Left Shoulder".

Note: They mention treatment for postnatal depression in mother-baby units, which unfortunately we don't have in the US other than in Providence, RI at the Women & Infants Hospital. We need more of them here in the US!

Have Spanish Researchers Figured Out How to Predict Who Will Get Postpartum Depression?

So a new study came out last week that was ALL OVER the internet and Twitterabout how Spanish researchers found a way to predict who will get postpartum depression. I saw the articles everywhere, butI waited to write about it because I wanted to understand exactly what the big new idea was before I covered it here.

In a published study, these Spanish researchers say they've figured out a way topredict 80% of postpartum depression cases, a method they sayhas higher accuracy than any other. As reported at US News & World Report:

"Early diagnosis of postnatal [or, postpartum] depression would make it possible to intervene to prevent it from developing among women at risk," Salvador Tortajada, a researcher at the Polytechnic University of Valencia and lead author of a new study on the methodology, said in a news release from the Scientific Information and News Service in Spain.

Per Psych Central, the researchers used artificial neural networks and extracted a series of risk factors highlighted in previous studies (stuff we already knew about):

  • the amount of social support for the mother
  • prior psychiatric problems in the family
  • emotional changes during the birth
  • neuroticism (a tendency to be less emotionally stable and more affected by stress than the average person)
  • genetic variations in the serotonin transporter gene (genes with high levels of expression lead to an increased risk of developing the illness)

I read as many of the stories online about this as I could find. They all pretty much parroted the press release from Spain but it was difficult to find much more than that. None of them had a link to the study. None of them explained to me howthis method can or will be implemented in the real world to prevent postpartum depression. None of them explained how, once these women are identified, we can ensure they receive the proper treatment.

Anyway, after doing some digging I finally found the journal in which the study was published online: Methods of Information in Medicine. And then after doing some more diggingI found the study. It's called"Prediction of Postpartum Depression Using Multilayer Perceptrons and Pruning".

Huh? What the heck are multilayer perceptrons?

A multilayer perceptron is a feedfoward artificial neural network model that maps sets of input data onto a set of appropriate output.

Sorry. I don't speak Russian.

An artificial neural network is a mathematical model that tries to simulate the structure or functional aspects of biological neural networks. They can be used to model complex relationships between inputs and outputs or to find patterns in data. Feedforward refers to giving pre-feedback to a person or an organization from which you are expecting feedback.


Are you lost? Me too.

Tell me more, you say? I can't. The article costs $25 euros and I just don't have $40 right now to spend on it. Besides which, I doubt I'd be able to understand a darn thing the paper says.

One thing I thought was odd, though:

They say they've discovered two protection factors that reduce the risk of getting postpartum depression– age (the older the woman the lower her chances), and whether or not a woman has worked during pregnancy (which reduces the risk). That seems strange to me, since I've known so many womenwho hadPPD who waited until they were in their 30s or later to have kids, and so many women towho hadPPD who had careers before they had them.

Warrior Moms: The Sisterhood of Postpartum Depression Grows

I'm so proud of all you Warrior Moms out there, as well as other readers of Postpartum Progress, who will stop at nothing to help a mom or mom-to-be who is suffering. This community fills my heart in ways you cannot imagine.

A little over a week ago I asked you to reach out to a mom who was suffering. You did. You went to her blog, Belly Laughs,and provided numerous comments of support. Here was herresponse:

"Thank you everyone. The support and concern has been overwhelming. I am so touched by your words. I read the comments nearly every day and they do help me through difficult times. Thank you again. I am amazed by the kindness of strangers!"

Just look at the power you have to help heal!!!!!!!

What she doesn't realize, of course, is that we aren't strangers. We are sisters. Everyone who goes down this dark road joins the sisterhood of Warrior Moms, and we are and will always be here for each other. We love each other. Thevast majoritythat survive. The few that don't. All of them are loved. If you are suffering right now, know that we believe in you and love youtoo.

The teenagers have the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. The Southern belles have the Ya-Ya Sisterhood. And those of us who've had a perinatal mood or anxiety disorder have the sisterhood of Warrior Moms.

Ireally liked the honesty ofthis post I read today from greenmama called "How My Life Got All Shitty." (If that doesn't some up PPD, what would?)

"I tried to tell my husband how I was feeling; lying awake staring at the ceiling and the clock while the baby was sleeping; praying, praying, praying that I could just go to sleep and everything would be okay again; hating myself and what was going on inside of me because it felt abnormal, unmotherly, inhumane, everything that I would never ever wish for myself or on anyone else; wishing that somehow my baby would just go away."

She calls herself the neighborhood fruit loop now. She isn't. We know better. Go tell her so.