Friday, April 30, 2010

When Pregnancy (or Lack of) Brings Depression

This week I shared my own journey through depression, sometimes related to chronic illness, other times to infertility or miscarriage, and most recently in the wake of pregnancy and for two years post-partum. Today I want to specifically share a resource for post-partum depression or PPD.

Living Beyond Postparutm Depression: Help and Hope for the Hurting Mom and Those Around Her by Jerusha Clark is a fantastic read for anyone considering trying to conceive. Hopefully you will never need the information there, but it is a good tool to have available and information to be aware of even prior to conception - I truly wish I had known about it before we miscarried Noel or before our living daughter's pregnancy/birth as I think I would have been armed with the information I needed to seek help and prevent much heartache.

One thing I greatly appreciate about Jerusha's book was that even though she herself has not faced infertility or pregnancy loss, she does acknowledge both issues, providing facts that are often overlooked in many PPD resources. While she does not address these issues in depth, she shares that, "PPD can afflict women after a miscarriage, stillbirth, or abortion." She also sites sources to explain that because of "exposure to artificial hormones and psychological stressors" that women undergoing infertility treatment "are at a high risk for developing depression. Approximately 25 to 30 percent of women undergoing treatment for fertility are clinically depressed before becoming pregnant and PPD affects a great number of these women after delivery." These were issues I had long-observed but never seen medically verified, so it was refreshing to find these references in this book.

If you are currently experiencing PPD, I would actually suggest that you ask a loved one (husband, supportive mother, best friend) to read Living Beyond for or with you. Knowing my own personality, I must be honest and say that if I had read it during PPD, because I was in the functional mild-moderate range of illness, while I would have gleaned much helpful information, some portions of the book might have added to my weight of guilt/concern. I do not say this because anything presented us untrue, invalid or even unkind, but because the book is very honest about the burden PPD places on family members and I tend to be guilt-driven very easily, even when in a healthy frame of mind. Likewise, had I read it after miscarriage I think I could have gained a lot of healing encouragement, but would also have found the passages about mothering a newborn quite hard to bear.

Having said all that, Living Beyond is still the most extensive and helpful resource I've found for understanding all the various facets and kinds of depression and what can be successfully done to help properly treat the condition. And I definitely need to note that while PPD refers to depression that comes post-pregnancy, many of the principles there are equally applicable to any form of depression, even those not related to the physical/hormonal shifts of pregnancy, so I would consider this book valuable reading for all women and married couples along with the husbands (Especially!!!), fathers, brothers, pastors or other men in positions to support women through this journey.

Note of disclaimer:
I received no financial compensation for this post, however I did receive a free review copy of Living Beyond Postpartum Depression from the publisher, NavPress. This review is fully my personal opinion and was not reviewed by the book author nor publisher prior to publication.

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