It would have really helped if I had known all of my risk factors ahead of getting postpartum anxiety. Maybe that whole hell could have been prevented. I mean, what if someone had said to me, “You have a high likelihood of getting this, so let’s teach you about it and make sure you know what to do and make sure we take good care of you and have a team around you just in case.” Or, what if instead of it taking me AN ENTIRE YEAR!!!! (YES, I’M YELLING) to find the right medication for me, I could have found one right away and gotten better a whole lot sooner?
We know a lot about perinatal mood and anxiety disorders like PPD, yes. But do we know enough? It’s pretty easy to answer that question with a resounding no, because if we did know enough so many moms wouldn’t still be suffering endlessly.
It’s a good thing, then, that some pretty cool people from across the globe are coming together to try and do something about it, starting today. Postpartum Progress is unbelievably proud to join the University of North Carolina School of Medicine, the Queensland Brain Institute in Australia, the National Centre for Mental Health at Cardiff University in the United Kingdom, Apple (yes … that Apple!), and the National Institute of Mental Health in launching PPD ACT™.
What is PPD ACT? It’s an international research study that uses a free iOS app—an app you can get on Apple iTunes for your iPhone or iPad—to gather data from moms who’ve had PPD. And anxiety. And psychosis. All moms. Any mom. If you had it 14 years ago, like me, you can join. If you’re in the midst of it right now, you can join. If you received a diagnosis from a doctor, you can join. If you didn’t but still had the symptoms of PPD, anxiety or psychosis, you can join.
PPD ACT is an Apple ResearchKit app. ResearchKit is an open-source framework developed by Apple that allows researchers to create app-based studies with global reach. Women in the U.S. and Australia can begin using PPD ACT today, and the UK version of the app is coming soon. The study was developed by Samantha Meltzer-Brody, MD, MPH, director of the Perinatal Psychiatry Program at the UNC Center for Women’s Mood Disorders and Patrick Sullivan, MD, director of the UNC Center for Psychiatric Genomics, and will be run by them in partnership with the international PACT Consortium.
So what do you do? Just download the PPD ACT App at the iTunes store, read the information about the study, consent to the study if you want to participate, and answer questions about your experience. That’s phase 1. Easy peasy.
Phase 2 is a genetics study to find the genetic makers for PPD. Depending on the information you shared in phase 1, you may be invited to share your DNA. Don’t worry; there are no needles! We’ll send you a DNA “spit kit,” you’ll spit into a test tube, you’ll ship the test tube back in the packaging provided, and the researchers will use your DNA and that of thousands of other women to find more answers about maternal mental illness. You won’t pay for a single thing. Not the app. Not the spit kit. Not the postage or shipping. Nothing. Also easy peasy, plus spitting for science!!
When we say thousands of women, we mean THOUSANDS. The goal is to get more than 100,000 moms from around the world to participate. If we meet this goal, it will be the largest study and the largest amount of data ever gathered of moms with PPD.
This is HUGE. MONUMENTAL. And it’s going to take work. Postpartum Progress’ motto is “together, stronger.” We have always believed that the voices of the women who have gone through this matter, and that if we all come together we can make sure moms in the future don’t have to struggle as we did. We can make sure our daughters never have to feel alone and defective and filled with shame as new mothers. WE can do something about it.
So here’s your chance, ladies. Join us. Imagine how powerful this can be if we all come together.
For any questions you have, read more about our how we’re participating with PPD ACT, find great images to share on social media, and answers to other questions you might have at this time. We know you’ll have some and we’re here to answer them for you. We hope you’ll share this with all moms in your life so we can reach that goal and find answers to the questions about postpartum depression so more mamas can be helped.
Thank you for being part of our community. You matter.