Lastweek over at O My Family, Allison took on the topic of religion and postpartum depression. As an evangelical Christian, she has not been helped by those who would have her believe that her PPD is simply a moral failing:
"Often when (if indirectly) criticizingor minimizing the validity of the use of anti-depressants for the treatment of depression, statements such as 'Find your healing in Christ', 'Medicine only masks the problem,' or 'Only Christ can restore your joy' are made. Depending on their context, these statements are potentially harmful (and well, the 2nd one is always harmful because it’s not true). Spoken to a friend who needs help seeing through the darkness of depression and then followed up by a sincere offer to help her find the resources she needs, they are good; Christ is the healer, He is the source of all true joy. However, it breaks my heart to have read these statements verbatim on a Christian mother’s blog series on depression no less than a few months ago. When left out there in the cyber universe as blanket statements, they feel like condemnation to the depression sufferer who is feeling helpless. They leave him or her without an actual, tangible step to take toward healing.
They make a 23-year-old new mother in Minnesota sit for months on end in a very dark place because she knows she needs to find her joy in Christ but she doesn’t know how and trying harder isn’t working."
Allison isn't the only one. Psych Central did a story back in 2008 on research that found that more than 32 percent of Christians who went to their church to get help for a mental illness were told they simply had a spiritual problem, even though these were people who had been clinically diagnosed. While that study focused on Christians, I imaginethis experience may be true for women who suffer PPD no matter the religion. Among those who believe, there will always be people who think a woman with postpartum depression is simply not centered enough in her religion or close enough to God or Allah. That makes me sad. As I wrote in a past piece onGod and PPD:
"I know that PPD is NOT a spiritual failing. Does anyone really imagine that if Jesus were here sitting across the table from us he would say "It's your own fault for not praying hard enough"? In my mind, I felt the God I believe in put His arms around me and tell me it would be OK, that I needed to believe I would get better, and that my recovery could include spiritual counseling and/or therapy and/or medication. Whatever it took to get better and be the kind of mom He wanted me to be. I think that whatever higher power you believe in would do the same."
For those of you to whom faith matters, I thought it would be helpful to sharepertinent resources. I am aware of a few positive resources from various faiths on postpartum depression -ones that recognize PPD and related illnesses as real and that accept that medical helpmay be necessary. If you know ofresourcesfor other faiths, PLEASE let me know so I can also list them here.
Nitza: The Israel Center for Maternal Health (their website doesn't seem to be working at the moment)
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