Early Diagnosis of PPD Is Critical For Shortest Recovery

Everyone has heard of the “baby blues,” which are defined as transient mood fluctuations shortly after the birth of a baby. The medical community considers these symptoms common, but when symptoms continue more than two weeks or are accompanied by significant anxiety, panic attacks, obsessive thoughts or just aren’t getting better, it’s a disservice and dangerous to dismiss a new mother’s depressed or anxious feelings as “perfectly normal.”

A recent story written by Marissa Kristal, suggests that it’s important to recognize that these signs, if left untreated, could result in unnecessary years of suffering.

When I read Ms. Kristal’s account of her journey, it saddened me that her postpartum depression was not identified and treated sooner. Although she eventually received treatment, it’s tragic that she endured it for so long. It’s likely she could have had a much shorter perinatal mood disorder if her doctors, or someone in her close circle, had recognized the signs and, importantly, not minimized her symptoms.

Ms. Kristal’s story speaks to the need for more education for everyone from healthcare providers to the general public. We must emphasize it’s a disservice to minimize symptoms, and we must continue to call for prompt referral to mental health providers with expertise in treating perinatal illness.

Because Ms. Kristal’s words are so poignant, and often repeated by patients in my therapy practice, I’m selecting some quotes here:

“I was particularly proud of my body’s seemingly superhuman capability. I was growing a human. And then she came out. And me? I was no longer superhuman. In fact, in mere seconds I plummeted to what felt like less than human. I was a crying, defeated, exhausted, anxiety-ridden mess.

“I didn’t dare tell a soul about my sentiments. I was petrified they would see me as an unfit mother. Weeks, months, even a year passed, and I did not feel like “me” again. I used to be: a positive, cheerful, friendly gal who came alive when writing, being physically active and spending time in nature.

“My supportive husband suggested couples counseling; I clicked with our therapist and began seeing her for individual therapy. She helped me manage my overwhelming anxiety, the insomnia and panic-attacks, and the isolation and melancholy that had transformed my old, joyful self into a sad, fragile shell of a being.

“With each challenging experience, we develop, learn, and grow. I am not myself. I am a far better self than I was 20 months ago, and I have my difficult postpartum journey, and beautiful daughter who I love with all my heart and soul, to thank for.”

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~ by ppdsus on October 3, 2014.

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