Thursday, March 18, 2010

A Better Way... Beat the Baby Blues: Postpartum Depression, Let's Talk.

I've returned from my eight day intensive first education phase in the Creighton Model FertilityCare System and I had not planned on blogging as I'm settling in here and preparing to meet with my first clients as well as get back into a routine and spend some time with my boys, whom I've missed. Then, this morning, I saw Kate Wicker's feature article at Faith and Family, Beat the Baby Blues: When Postpartum Depression Hits Home. The article is candid about an issue that many women suffer from silently and it offers helpful suggestions for finding balance when changes and adjustments to family life have thrown us off. I had to write about this topic, however, because the article does not not even mention one the most effective treatments for postpartum depression.

Postpartum depression is defined as a major depressive disorder with postpartum onset. The postpartum period can be a great challenge to a woman's mental health. The physical, social, psychological and hormonal changes during this period are sudden and extreme. It is not uncommon for women in this period to experience fatigue, bouts of crying, loss of interest in daily activities, inability to enjoy activities formerly enjoyed, difficulty concentrating and remembering, irritability, feelings of guilt, inadequacy or worthlessness, excessive anxiety over the child's health, and even thoughts of death or suicide. Postpartum psychosis is a more severe condition and is usually associated with other underlying or preexisting psychological disorders.

The well being of mother and child, and by extension the whole family, depends absolutely on the mother's mental wellness and so medical treatment for postpartum depression is urgent. Women should be encouraged to seek treatment immediately and the social stigma that women who suffer depression are somehow "weak" needs to be eradicated. This is not a matter of character, but of chemicals.

The true solution to depression brought on by a hormonal imbalance is to bring the hormones back into balance. However, this is not the solution offered by most doctors. A woman who talks to her doctor about postpartum depression can expect to be given a choice of two solutions: the birth control pill or antidepressants. Both these solutions can effectively mask the ill effects of hormone imbalance, but neither addresses the underlying cause and each comes with its own attending side effects.

NaProTechnology, or Natural Procreative Technology developed by Dr Thomas Hilgers of the Pope Paul VI Institute, offers a better way to treat postpartum depression. They have found that the use of progesterone therapy results in dramatic improvement in the symptoms of depression. Further, it is a natural treatment and has no known side effects. Additionally, there is evidence to suggest that the use of supplemental progesterone during pregnancy can even prevent the onset of depression in the postpartum period in the first place.

More women need to know this. The word should get out that there is a real solution to this very real problem and women and families need not suffer. Of course progesterone therapy alone is not the complete answer to postpartum depression as the physical and social changes a woman experiences still present a challenge, but most women find that these other areas are much more manageable when chemical imbalances have been corrected.

I've had my own experiences with postpartum depression and progesterone therapy and I would be happy to share my own story, but that is a post for another day.

Where to go for help:

As with all NaProTechnology solutions, treatment for PPD should be administered in cooperation with the woman's own individual and natural cycle. A FertilityCare professional can assist you in tracking your cycle and monitoring your health. Physicians are better able to treat you when you present a record of your health in the standardized format. FertilityCare professionals can teach you how to keep these records. Find physicians and FertilitlyCare professionals in your area.