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Post Partum Depression

Cases of women suffering from severe Post Partum Depression also known as PPD, have become increasingly apparent in the news.  A story of a new mother, baby in arms, stepping off of a train platform into the path of an oncoming train, or a mom driving a van, filled with her children, into a lake, and most recently the story of a mother tossing her child and then herself off of a high way overpass; these shocking stories are splashing their way across the headlines and causing not only the media, but also all of society to question not only what is happening to cause these women to commit such horrific acts, but what is being done to help those who find themselves capable of these crimes?     

Recently, actor Tom Cruise publicly dismissed actress Brooke Shield’s admittance of experiencing severe Post Partum Depression after the birth of her first child.  Cruise refused to acknowledge the reality or severity of the condition.  He refused to acknowledge the emotional pain that is associated with the condition.  While his reaction was both insensitive and ignorant, it was affective in bringing PPD to the public’s immediate attention. With cases of mother’s taking not only their own lives, but also the lives of their children, becoming more and more common, it is imperative that help and compassion be available to parents.  Thankfully we don't have to rely on Hollywood tidbits for accurate information.  Finally, information and aid is available, shedding light on a serious type of depression, that is as old as childbirth itself.

Health care professionals are becoming more aware that the current baby boom has increased the need for readily available health information for expecting parents. Post Partum Depression, also termed the baby blues when considered a mild form of depression, is an area now included in most prenatal course material.  Prenatal classes now not only prepare parents for the coming birth, but also life with their new baby.  In the past this common and treatable mood disorder was not given the recognition and attention it deserved.  Women suffering from PPD did so in silence.  Today it is believed that approximately 80% of mothers experience some form of the baby blues.  This usually happens a few days after the birth and can last up to a week.  Feeling sad or overwhelmed are common symptoms and usually disappear on their own.  One out of six new mothers it is thought however, will experience depression or anxiety that will not go away as quickly.  While there are many affective therapies available to help mothers experiencing a more severe case of PPD, until recently, society had not accepted Post Partum Depression as a real and potentially serious condition.  Public education campaigns are currently leading the way in providing health support to women who are in need.

While there are quite a few symptoms of PPD, the most common are feeling persistently sad, loss of interest in activities once enjoyed, feeling hopeless or worthless or guilty, fatigue, appetite changes and having thoughts of death or suicide.  Women who have a family history of depression or have suffered from depression in the past are believed to be more susceptible to PPD.

There is a great deal of current information and many resources regarding PPD available to women.  Literature is one avenue that can be sought out and may be the most accessible to the public.  Most books regarding pregnancy have within their pages, a specific section dedicated to PPD's causes, effects and treatments.  The highly acclaimed pregnancy guide,  "What to expect when you're expecting", lists common questions that women who are experiencing symptoms associated with PPD have and give informative answers to these questions.  Reading this type of book helps women realize that they are not alone.  There are also a number of books written that are dedicated solely to the care and condition of PPD.  Books such as “This Isn’t What I Expected” or “Postpartum Survival Guide” help educate and inform.  Feelings of both disappointment and sadness after the birth are not uncommon and these books strive to teach the reader that what they are experiencing should not be a source of shame or embarrassment.  Many mothers also feel pangs of regret or go through a low after the climatical birth. It is when these feelings grow stronger with time or thoughts of doing harm to the baby or oneself occur, that it is important to seek professional help, PPD literature is one way to start the healing process. 

Most literature that makes reference to PPD will include a list of mental health clinics and aid workers that are available. Walk-in clinics, hospitals and doctors offices are excellent places to receive advice and information regarding all types of depression.  PPD pamphlets are usually available in health related receptions and will include a list of symptoms and recommended care.  They will also detail current activities and groups for mother and baby to join in the area; as it is beneficial to women to develop relationships with other mothers.  It is always best to get information directly from a health care professional though, as they are equipped with the most current and accurate information regarding PPD and can recommend a therapist or support group if required. 

Web sites are also an easily accessible and great place to gather information. There are many sites specifically designed to promote healthy living for both mom and baby.  www.Postpartum.org is a highly recommended non profit site tha