Two Stories of Postpartum Anxiety and A Commentary on Medication

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I read a lot of stuff. Thanks to the explosion of the blogosphere, it’s getting harder and harder to keep up with all the great writing and sharing going on about postpartum anxiety, so I’ve missed a few things lately.

The first thing I missed was a great piece by Rita Arens of Surrender, Dorothy. Rita was a contributor to last year’s Mother’s Day Rally for Moms’ Mental Health. Her post on BlogHer, entitled “Extreme Anxiety & New Motherhood: The Perfect Storm”, is a great decription of what it is like to be a new mom when you suffer from anxiety. You think you’ve got worries?! Try being someone with PPA! They never end, not the normal “my baby isn’t having enough bowel movements” worries and not the over-the-top “my baby is going tobe abducted by aliens” worries. Rita writes:

“In the height of my anxiety, I didn’t trust my own instincts at all. I felt crazy most of the time, so how could I possibly know how to solve my parenting problems? I constantly sought the advice of others, read more parenting books — especially sleep books — watched the great new show Supernanny, read parenting magazines and parenting Web sites. I read advice that said if I just let my daughter cry for ten minutes, she’d sleep well for the rest of her life. I read articles that said too much baby fat would lead to a lifetime of obesity. (My girl was an off-the-charts large baby and is a 50th percentile five-year-old.) I read about the mercury in the tuna fish and the lead in the toys and worried about gas leaks and refined sugar and screen time all while letting my daughter eat packaged toddler snacks and watch more Baby Einstein while I sat on the couch trying to calm myself down and not go through once more in my head how quickly I could install the fire rescue ladder in my daughter’s window when our house inevitably burned down.”

How did Rita read my mind like that?

Then there’s Heather Spohr, at The Spohr’s Are Multiplying, who wrote this week about her current experience with postpartum anxiety. Heather’s daughter Maddie,passed away tragically last year. The combination of her previous experience with postpartum anxiety after having Maddie and her daughter’s loss has led to a second bout of PPA after the birth of her new little baby Annabel.

“I want to be mentally healthy, mentally present for my Annabel, and I’m working really hard at it. I had massive postpartum anxiety with Madeline so I knew I would be at an increased risk to get it again. I didn’t want that. I didn’t want to suffer through it again. But this time around, with everything that’s happened, it has been inevitable.”

Finally, I missed a piece by Catherine Connors of Her Bad Mother, who was also a contributor to the 2009 Mother’s Day Rally for Moms’ Mental Health. Also on BlogHer, and entitled “Depression: There’s Still A Pill for That” is a commentary on all the press out lately about how antidepressants don’t work. Catherine writes:

“In the parenting community, mothers sometimes resist discussing their use of antidepressants, because they fear stigma and judgment, and the characterization of antidepressants as either a) unnecessary, or b) the fallback of the truly crazy might be just enough to discourage open discussion about post-partum depression and, by extension, perhaps discourage some women from looking into it. If one is afraid of being stigmatized as crazy or sick, then the impulse to self-diagnose one’s depression as ‘mild blues’ and avoid the pills could be strong. It already is. Making light of studies like these doesn’t help”.

She and I feel the same way about the mischaracterization of research in the media. I wrote about the same exact study and how it was inaccurately reported in my post “Headlines Report Antidpressants No More Effective Than Placebo. Were They Right?“. (They weren’t, by the way.) Catherine has an enormous reach and influence with her blog, so I’m glad she’s taking the media to task. Given the back and forth over antidepressants in the post I wrote last week for BlogHer, this is a timely topic.

 

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About Katherine Stone

is the founder & editor of Postpartum Progress. She was named one of the ten most influential mom bloggers of 2011, a WebMD Health Hero and one of the top 25 parent bloggers using social media for social good. She also writes the Fierce Blog, and a parenting column for Disney's Babble.com.

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Comments

  1. Thanks for the shout-out! It is hard to keep track of things. As Denise pointed out, you can subscribe to specific writers or with keywords on BlogHer by clicking on the orange triangle at the top of posts or forums threads or what have you.
    Though I've been better in the past few years about controlling my anxiety with therapy and meds, I plan to continue to write about it as my daughter gets older. My current obsessions aren't so much physical as mental — am I teaching her the right things? Am I giving her the tools she needs to make friends, to be a productive member of society?

  2. Stephanie says:

    Rita's post was fabulous. I am not able to put my anxious feelings on "paper" like that but I felt like she was going through the exact circumstances I was. I still deal with anxiety but I can control it better on my meds and with my therapy. Thanks for that post!

  3. Katherine Stone/Post says:

    I felt the same way. It was like she was inside my brain!

  4. If you haven't seen the latest "New Yorker" the big headline is "Why are you depressed?: Louis Menand on mood, medication, and the crazy world of psychotherapy." Very interesting.

  5. Thanks for such informative post.I notice many mothers after delivery face such depression but they can not figure out the problem at right time.Such sort of informative articles help people to be aware .

  6. Thank you so much for these posts about PPA. As a suffered of PPA/OCD, it's helpful to read articles about other mothers with PPA and OCD. I can completely relate.