Monday, March 1, 2010

PPD Nightmares: Preview

*Disclosure: I was given an opportunity to preview Postpartum Nightmares from Discovery Communications. I was not asked to write a post or compensated in anyway other than being able to watch the episode before it aired. The opinions expressed are all my own.

Some of you may know that I suffered from pretty bad Postpartum Depression* (PPD) and Postpartum Obsessive Compulsive Disorder** after my first child and mild PPD after my second. If you didn't, now you do. Discovery Health will be airing a special on PPD on Tuesday March 2 as part of it's Baby Week. I was given an opportunity to pre-screen this special over the weekend.

The special is called Postpartum Nightmares and was described as: Postpartum Nightmares captures the emotional roller coaster of three new mothers who suffer from severe postpartum mood disorders triggered by the birth of their first baby.

I was both excited and nervous about watching the episode. Excited because we no longer have cable (money saving measure!) so I have not been able to watch any medical specials lately and I missed them. Nervous because my emotions are still all over the place and fragile after my miscarriage. I have teetered on the edge and wondered to myself if I was going to go down that dark path again. My husband, although he wouldn't admit it was worried too as he came downstairs to check on me while I watched it.

After watching it here are my thoughts:

  • As with most medical shows it's going to highlight the extremes and do the dramatic reinachment. I knew that and was prepared for that because I have watched many of Discovery Channel's medical shows before. I did feel that the intro was maybe a little bit over the top. While PPD IS a nightmare and DOES feel like you are living in your own horror movie, I don't think the intro needed to look like a horror movie.
  • I liked that they featured 3 different women with 3 very different types of PPD and 3 very different treatments. PPD is NOT the same for everyone and what worked for one women may not work for another.
Common Symptoms of PPD*:
  • The baby blues do not start to fade after about 1 week, or if the feelings get worse.
  • Strong feelings of depression and anger come 1–2 months after childbirth.
  • Feelings of sadness, doubt, guilt, or helplessness seem to increase each week and get in the way of normal functions.
  • She is not able to care for herself or her baby.
  • She has trouble doing tasks at home or on the job.
  • Her appetite changes.
  • Things that used to bring her pleasure no longer do.
  • Concern and worry about the baby are too intense, or interest in the baby is lacking.
  • Anxiety or panic attacks occur. She may be afraid to be left alone in the house with the baby.
  • She fears harming the baby. These feelings are almost never acted on by women with postpartum depression, but they can be scary. These feelings may lead to guilt, which makes the depression worse.
  • She has thoughts of self-harm or suicide

  • I think the show did a great job of throwing out facts during the stories. They did those both in their experts interviews as well as in words on the screen. Some of the facts I came away with were:
- Up to 20% ( 1 in 8) women will suffer from some form/level of PPD but 80% of them will go undiagnosed and untreated.
- Postpartum Psychosis is RARE (however this is what we see the most of in the news)
- Baby Blues only last 2 weeks, if it goes beyond that it's PPD
- typical PPD OCD is excessive worry and scary thoughts of things happening to the baby

Symptoms of perinatal OCD can include**:

  • Obsessions, also called intrusive thoughts, which are persistent, repetitive thoughts or mental images related to the baby. These thoughts are very upsetting and not something the woman has ever experienced before.
  • Compulsions, where the mom may do certain things over and over again to reduce her fears and obsessions. This may include things like needing to clean constantly, check things many times, count or reorder things.
  • A sense of horror about the obsessions
  • Fear of being left alone with the infant
  • Hypervigilance in protecting the infant

  • I think for a pregnant mom (especially a first time mom) the show may be a little overwhelming and scary, it features traumatic birthing scenes that not everyone, will go through. However traumatic births are one causes of PPD so it was not don gratuitously.
  • Overall I think it's a well done show that would be good for new moms to watch and just may help someone.
I think the most important thing to take away from this is that they are showing it. Discovery is talking about it and get others to talk about it and that is really the most important thing. Many moms, too many moms, don't get the help they need because of the stigma attached to PPD.

For many people the first thing that comes to mind when you say PPD is a mug shot of a mom with crazed eyes who tried to drive her kids and car in a river. That is postpartum psychosis** and that is RARE. But no one wants to be labeled the crazy mom that wants to kill her kids. Trust me. I was there and I didn't even want to admit it to my husband. The more we talk about it, the more we get the word out about how common it is. The more mothers that will get help they need, whatever that is. Again I know this because the only reason I got help was because I read another mom's story.

If you think you are suffering from PPD, the most important thing you can do is talk to someone you can trust. A spouse, a friend, a doctor or you can call Postpartum Support International at 1-800-944-4PPD.

Postpartum Nightmares will air on Discovery Health on Tuesday March 2 8:00pm ET/PT.

This show sparked a lot of memories in and reminded me a lot of my own PDD journey. I wrote about it in a separate post which can be found here.

Sources for facts and information given:
* American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
** Postpartum Support International

1 comment:

Gretchen said...

I'm glad you reviewed this and told other people about it. When you wrote, " I was there and I didn't even want to admit it to my husband" I almost cried. That's how I've feld a hundred times, but I thought I was the only person who felt that way. Thanks for sharing your honesty.