PPD ACT Off to a Great Start with 10,000 Women Enrolled in PPD Study

One month ago we announced the launch of PPD ACT in partnership with UNC School of Medicine, Dr. 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, UNC Health Care, and UNC School of Medicine Center for Innovation, the Queensland Brain Institute in Australia, the National Centre for Mental Health at Cardiff University in the United Kingdom, the National Institute of Mental Health and, of course, Apple. As of today, 10,000 women have enrolled in the largest ever genetic study of postpartum depression via the iPhone app.

PPD ACT Off to a Great Start with 10,000 Women Enrolled in PPD Study -postpartumprogress.com

TEN THOUSAND.

You Warrior Moms really know how to bring it, don’t you?

Of those 10,000 enrollees, 5,000 are eligible to submit their DNA via the spit kit that will be mailed to them, free of charge.

These numbers are encouraging and speak to both the amazing ways technology has and will continue to shape our lives and our understanding of mental health as well as to the willingness of those who have experienced postpartum mood and anxiety disorders to make a difference for moms. Signing up via PPD ACT was an easy process for those with an iPhone. The fact that we can also collect DNA so easily in this day in age kind of paints a “we now live in the future” type of scene. This is the future, Warrior Moms, and we’re making a difference. We’re doing it!

The two lead doctors had things to say on the topic of mobile use and willingness to help other moms as well.

“The initial response to the study and mobile app has been incredibly encouraging,” Dr. Meltzer-Brody said. “This is a testament to the need for more research, acceptance and support for women who suffer from PPD and similar mood disorders. But our work is far from over.”

“This is a completely new way of recruiting study participants for genetic studies and is proving to be a highly effective way to recruit women for study participation in order to reach the large sample sizes necessary for psychiatric genetic studies,” Dr. Sullivan said. “The large sample size estimates are based on work I’ve conducted with the Psychiatric Genomic Consortium (PGC) on other psychiatric disorders.”

The study would like to see a total of 50,000 women, so we still have time and space for more moms to download the iPhone app and join the study. Which means you still have time to tell other moms about the app. We know you’ve been active on social media sharing it on your Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and every which place you live online.

We’d also like to encourage you to actively speak to those in your daily, off-computer life. That moms group you go to? With statistics showing one in seven moms experiences a postpartum mood and anxiety disorder, you’re not the only mom showing up every week fighting postpartum depression. Bring it up. Have you talked to your mom about it? It might broach a conversation the two of you need to have about what happened back then—and what’s changed since. What about your sister-in-law? Your cousins? Your best friend from high school and college? The women in your running group. Your co-workers—even male ones. Because not only do men experience postpartum depression, but maybe their wives fought it or are still struggling.

We have this great chance to not only gather this information and be part of research that will change things for the future, but to initiate conversations and thus destigmatize mental illness all over the place right now. Part of the mission of Postpartum Progress is to fight stigma, and we know that every single time you have one of these conversations, whether online or in person, you’re doing just that. You’re making it okay for another mom to say, “Me too.”

So, thank you, Warrior Moms. Thank you for jumping in on this amazing research project. Thank you for sharing it in your circles. We now ask you to continue sharing. Here’s what Katherine Stone, Postpartum Progress’ founder and CEO, had to say about the work you’ve been doing.

“Our ever-growing network of Warrior Moms is working diligently to increase awareness among women who have suffered from PPD and related mood disorders in the past,” said Katherine Stone, founder of Postpartum Progress. “We want to ensure that women understand that their participation in this study is a significant contribution toward treating – and eventually preventing – perinatal mood and anxiety disorders.”

Katherine believes in you. I believe in you. The whole team at Postpartum Progress believes in you. And we believe in this research. We believe it will give us the information we need to best help moms as we continue forward in our mission.

If you haven’t downloaded the free iPhone app yet, you can download it from the App Store. You can also share the link with those moms in your life: https://itunes.apple.com/app/id1048185979. If you have more questions about PPD ACT, we have answers. You can also reach out to us if you have further questions. We’re here for you; you are never alone.

Inform, Empower, Act: Why Research Matters

Inform, Empower, Act: Why Research Matters -postpartumprogress.com

I’ve been there. Sitting at home with a new baby; shaking with anxiety, unable to eat, sleep, or think clearly enough to put one foot in front of the other. You turn on your computer or pull out your phone and visit Google and start to research your symptoms. The overwhelming amount of information that comes back leaves you confused, frightened or maybe even in disbelief. So much of it uses words and terminology you don’t understand and only further adds fuel to the fire.

Taking a trip down the Google “rabbit hole” is where a lot of us start to find bits and pieces of information that make our symptoms start to make sense. Though you may think what you’re reading is official and credible, you may actually be looking at someone’s opinion supported by research that is incomplete or one-sided. One article or study may contradict the other, and you stumble across horror stories about medication and its side effects, trips to the hospital, and claims that postpartum mood disorders like postpartum depression aren’t real or can be solved through diet changes and exercise alone.

That’s why we work so hard at Postpartum Progress to bring you credible, relevant, evidence-based academic and scientific research about postpartum depression, treatment options and maternal mental health. The more information we can share with our Warrior Mom community, the better positioned you are to help yourself and your family. There are three important reasons why research matters to you and all our Warrior Moms.

Inform

Information is power. It really, really is. The more you can learn about your diagnosis or symptoms, the better positioned you are to take control of your health. Postpartum Progress has a growing collection of research articles available on our website as well as tools like the New Mom Checklist that you can download and use when visiting your doctor.

Right now we are developing partnerships with academic and medical researchers in the United States and Canada to do actual research with our Warrior Moms! Not only will this work help you to understand your experience better, it will also help in developing better treatment options for all mamas. We will also be continuing our partnership with Iodine and encouraging you to take a look at their Start app for your iOS smartphone.

Empower

When you have information and tools literally in your hands as you discuss your health with your doctor, you can play a big part in deciding what treatment options are best for you. This sense of empowerment is so important for women struggling with postpartum mood disorder because many of us feel completely out of control. You’ll feel more confident when talking about how you’re feeling or sharing your concerns about medication and side effects.

While we’re working to get our Warrior Moms involved in scientific studies we are also advocating having a seat at the same table as policy makers, the media and large health care organizations to advocate for the patient voice; the voice of our community and the issues that really matter to mamas. Each of you has a story filled with courage and bravery that will always serve as one of the main reason why we fight to end stigma and get moms the treatment they deserve.

Act

Depression lies and tells you that your situation is hopeless. There is nothing you can do. You’re stuck. You’re alone. You’re never going to get better. Research gives us the information to talk back to depression and stop it dead in its tracks. Being informed and empowered gives you the chance to act—and take back your life. We know (and research tells us) that small actions, whether it’s taking your medication every day, going for a walk, joining a peer support group or even just getting out of bed, start to build positive forward momentum. Eventually your bad days become fewer and you start to feel like yourself again.

Taking action to treat your mood disorder takes courage and no two mamas’ road to recovery will look the same. What works for one might not work for you—and that’s okay. Taking action puts you back in the driver’s seat and lets you work with your doctor to develop a plan that works for you and your life.

Look for more information related to research opportunities for you and other Warrior Moms to get involved in over the next few months. More research means better treatment options—and we can all agree this is something worth fighting for.

What kind of research is important to you? Do you want more information and study about mood disorders and treatment options, including medication and alternatives? Are researchers asking the right questions? In what ways can Warrior Moms become more involved in research opportunities?

The Link Between PMS and Postpartum Depression

postpartum depression researchI’ve said it more than once in speeches and been told I was wrong by an expert or two. There’s no data, they said. Yet it only makes sense to me that those of us who are highly sensitive to hormonal changes would be more likely to experience mood problems all across our lifespan. And it’s not just me. I have heard this from the thousands of women I have spoken to throughout the 8+ years I’ve been doing this blog. Sure, a history of PMS wouldn’t be the only risk factor for PPD, but certainly it is one, right?

Mood problems with PMS? Check.

Postpartum depression? Check.

Mood seriously affected prior to periods during perimenopause? Double freaking check.

More than one person has told me no. Now a study from the University of Iowa published in the Archives of Women’s Mental Health finds that there is an association between premenstrual symptoms and a risk for postpartum depression.

Yes. We could have told you that. And now there’s some data. It will be interesting to see whether more studies come out finding the same.

The Latest from MGH on Postpartum Depression Research

I’ve been meaning to let you know about a host of new research articles over at the MGH Center for Women’s Mental Health blog, so here’s a quick list:

Folic Acid and Risk of Perinatal Depression: Is There An Association?

Lithium Use During Pregnancy: What Are the Long-Term Effects?

Mindfulness Yoga for the Treatment of Depression During Pregnancy: A Pilot Study

Pregnancy Outcomes in Women with Eating Disorders

Depression During Pregnancy Increases the Risk for Pre-Term Birth