PSI Conference Sends Message: Need To Inspire Patients and Other Therapists

As a therapist in private practice, whose work involves treating women with perinatal depression, I am often struck by the uniqueness of each woman who enters my office. Despite the similarity of symptoms and diagnosis, each patient brings her own background and story to our sessions.

This realization was one of the important findings shared by the hundreds of mental health specialists who gathered several weeks ago at the Postpartum Support International Conference in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

I was honored to be the keynote speaker at this very special event. The day following my speech, a number of the participants made it a point to find me and tell me that they were moved by the message and that my words influenced their thinking.

If you’ve read my book, or my blog posts, you’re aware that I emphasize this finding: Tremendous personal growth and transformation often follow our darkest times, which includes the painful experience of perinatal depression and anxiety disorders.

Our job, as therapists specializing in this illness, is to let our patients, and all women who are experiencing this illness, know about this possibility of a happier future. They must understand — through our guidance — that they must not lose hope. It is our job, and privilege, to help them find something meaningful in their postpartum depression or anxiety experience and to find something meaningful in their life.

Among other takeaways from this extraordinary conference is confirmation that PMAD (perinatal mood and anxiety disorders) is caused by multiple factors; not simply brain chemistry or plummeting hormone levels. Although those sources are certainly part of the condition, we must add to the list of possible roots: the myths of motherhood, sleep deprivation, perfectionism, lack of social supports, traumatic birth experiences, and more.

A final outcome of the conference is the realization that those of us specializing in treating women with PMAD are doing extremely significant and important work. We are changing not only how maternal mental health issues are treated, but we are also affecting mental healthcare delivery and attitudes worldwide.

And, in order to inspire the perinatal women that we treat, it’s equally vital
that we, the therapeutic community, support and inspire one other.


~ by ppdsus on July 24, 2014.

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