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

Moms With Postpartum Depression Have Shorter Kids? Not So Fast!

postpartum depression height shortIt was all over the news this week.

NBC News – Depressed Moms Might Have Shorter Kids, New Study Suggests

Huffington Post – Postpartum Depression Linked to Shorter Children

Time Healthland – Moms’ Depression May Lead to Shorter Kids

CBS News – Kids of Moms Who Had Postpartum Depression More Likely to Be Short by Age 5

PsychCentral – Mom’s Depression Linked to Shorter Kids (really, Psych Central? You, too?)

MedLine Plus – Postpartum Depression May Lead to Shorter Kids

This line in particular, from the MedLine Plus article, made my head explode: “What it comes down to is a kind of neglect,” she added.

A study by researchers at Johns Hopkins found that moms with postpartum depression have shorter kids.  And like any piece of research about postpartum depression, especially one that’s negative, news of the study spread like wildfire across the media.

It’s not like moms with PPD don’t have enough to worry about as it is. We’re already drowning in guilt, thank you very much. We know that if our postpartum depression or anxiety remains untreated that our children may suffer certain consequences. But height? Really? We’re making our kids shorter? [Read more…]