Saturday, January 24, 2009

Postpartum Depression

What? Does this seem random? I've never written about PPD on this blog. You didn't know I had PPD? I didn't, either! In fact, I still don't know whether I would have been officially diagnosed as having PPD, but I'm certain I experienced a postpartum mood disorder. I'll speak of this is more detail another time soon, but for right now I want to talk about my new book I received in the mail: The Lifter of My Head: How God sustained me during postpartum depression. by Sue McRoberts.

I've only read the first chapter and a half, but it is a very riveting read so far. I am on a quest to find out more about postpartum depression and post-adoptive depression, and this is my first stop.

What makes perfect sense to me, and what contributed to my experience with possible PPD, is my experience with infertility. Although infertility was not Mrs. McRoberts's story (at least it doesn't seem like it so far), she does list "major loss in the past two years" as a risk factor for PPD. Think about infertility for a minute. You might not think it involves loss if you've never experienced it, but it most certainly does. No it's not always loss of a pregnancy, but of a hoped-for pregnancy and prayed-for child. A loss you experience every. single. month (if you are fortunate enough to be an ovulatory woman).

I'm going to come back to this soon, but for now there are some little boys needing my attention, and a hungry big boy (husband) who would love to sit and eat a bit in peace. So I want to quickly list some risk factors for experiencing postpartum depression.

In academic writing you need to go straight to the source instead of writing "according to Parenting Today as cited by McRoberts, 2007," but this is a blog and not academia - yay! So, according to Parenting Today as cited by McRoberts, 2007, some risk factors for experiencing postpartum depression include:

previous PPD
family history of anxiety or depression (genetic predisposition)
unplanned pregnancy
unsupportive spouse
recent separation or divorce
major loss in past two years (death of loved one, for example)
obstetric complications
environmental stressors

Do any of these describe you? Have you undergone a lot of stress and disappointment in your life on your reproductive journey? Did you envision a natural birth only to have to have an emergency C-section? Were you unable to breastfeed after planning to nurse your child? Was your sweet baby in the Nicu after birth? Did you finally release your desire to be pregnant only to find yourself so? Did this happen after adoption?

I want you to be aware of the possibility that you may experience some form of postpartum mood disorder, and to know that it is OK and important to seek help. You do NOT have to do anything yourself, you do NOT have to love every minute of parenting, and you do NOT have to go it alone. Accept help. Ask for help. Beg for help. See your doctor. Pray for God's guidance in how He would want you to deal with PPD.

In my case, I chose to go to counseling to begin to cope with my postpartum emotions. I went to my OB/GYN and my favorite Nurse Practitioner prescribed an antidepressant called Lexapro. I decided to wait before I started taking it until I saw a counselor. My lovely friend and supporter Tara suggested I contact Postpartum Support International ( and speak to an area coordinator about therapists in my town. Through PSI I found Dr. Kelly Boyd who I saw for several visits and plan to to back now that the holiday crazies are over. She has helped me a lot and things are so much better.

I'll link these to my right sometime when I remember how, but in the meantime here are some links.

Postpartum Support International (
Out of the Valley Ministries (
Sue McRoberts (
Live Oak Center for Counseling and Reproductive Psychology (

"But You, O Lord, are a shield for me, my glory, and the lifter of my head." Psalm 3:3, as cited...


Mark and Niki said...

Isn't it amazing how God can use trials in your life to allow you to minister to thers?

Mark and Niki said...

that was supposed to be others, not thers

Allison said...

I was diagnosed with PPD after my daughter was born (at my 6 week check). Lexapro and prayer were my saving grace!
And now with the addition of our adoptive son, I was diagnosed with PAD (post-adoptive depression). I'm now on a medication that is helping my anxiety and depression.

Lots of people don't understand post-child depression or mood disorders - but it's very real and can be helped!

Seek God and seek counsel from a professional. Thanks for sharing this much, Amy.

Ann said...

I am struck with how much more open your generation is to postpartum issues like depression, breast feeding, and adjustment issues. Unfortunately, there were fewer supports and resources "in my day" and most of us were left to cope individually with these challenges. I think that the growing openness in this area is very helpful to all concerned.


I would love to know some good resources on post adoption depression. Please send them my way when you get time. Thanks!
Sue McRoberts