Sunday, April 19, 2009

Postpartum depression--an interview

Yesterday at her blog, Heatherty Featherty wrote a very honest account of her experience with postpartum depression. You may read it by clicking here.

Heather was gracious enough to allow me to interview her with a few follow-up questions that I had about ppd. It is our hope that perhaps this might help someone else suffering from ppd.

The following is my interview with Heather:

1. What advice would you give a woman suffering from ppd?

Get help! I know it's difficult to put your finger on it sometimes. You just don't feel "right" you know? You can't sleep or you sleep too much. You can't eat or you eat too much. You're cranky and irritable with everyone in your life, or just some people in particular that you usually like. Talk to your OB about it, especially at your six-week postpartum checkup. Tell your husband or your mom or a close friend that you don't feel right. Don't keep it to yourself, that's when it starts to snowball and you can't get a handle on it.

2. When did you first recognize it as ppd, and not just baby blues or sleep deprivation?

I felt like the "baby blues" were hormonally related and usually happened between week 1 and 4 postpartum. They included lots of weeping over sad songs or finding myself crying in the shower because I realized my baby was growing up too fast. PPD felt totally different, it was like a heavy dark blanket that slowed me down and kept me from doing things like I normally do. My body and my brain felt very sluggish, although I know everyone doesn't feel that way. My doctor thinks my depression wasn't classic PPD because it didn't include any negative feelings towards my baby. I know some women who just didn't bond with their baby at all, didn't take an interest in it at all. And sleep deprivation is a great form of torture, it can make the most sane and rational person start to hallucinate and act crazy. All I can say for me is it was a gradual process where I realized what I was feeling was depression that was probably made worse by the sleep deprivation and the crazy hormone shifts.

3. Do you think therapy along with drugs is a must, or not?

For me, yes. For most people I would recommend it, although I know lots of insurance plans don't want to cover therapy and it's expensive. I think it's important to find a professional you feel comfortable with that you can tell your darkest thoughts to. That's what ended up helping me the most, when I confessed my "crazy" thoughts to my therapist and she instantly picked up the phone to call a psychiatrist and get me in to see him right away. I thought my "crazy" thoughts were just me. I didn't realize they're called ruminating thoughts and they everyone didn't have them. I don't have them anymore, so now I know what was going on wasn't normal.

4. Advice for spouses, friends, family dealing with a person with ppd? e.i. what support from fam/friends would have helped you thru that period?

One of the most powerful things I ever heard was a radio interview while I was getting treated for my depression. A man had lost his wife to suicide three months after having their first child. She was suffering with PPD but had managed to hide the severity of it, and her husband and family missed it, too. I clearly remember him saying that the trauma of childbirth and the aftermath to a woman's body is enormous, yet as a society we expect women to just breeze through it without any help. We expect women to come home from the hospital and just pick up like nothing happened except you've added a new person to your family.
He said it is everyone's responsibility to make sure pregnant and new mothers get the most help we can give them. If it's helping them with laundry or watching their kids so they can take a nap, do that. If it's letting them get out of the house for a few hours and wander around Target alone, let them do that. Especially the spouses, the men must do everything they can to help out. In my case, my husband didn't so much help as not help and there was some chaos in those first few weeks that made it worse for me but that's another story altogether. I'll try to find a clip to that interview so you can hear it, too. It really moved me.

5. After having ppd, is there a fear of having another baby and experiencing it again?

Oh yeah. It's a very scary thing to go through and the fear it might happen again is very real. But also, I know there's help out there and I don't have to feel that way. Unfortunately for me, I won't be having more kids but I have friends who have gone on to have babies after suffering from PPD and they didn't suffer the next time. So I know it's possible to have a great postpartum experience, too.
I hope this helps someone. I never expected to need medical intervention like I did, and while I didn't feel like it was a weakness on my part I was really resistant to it. I was nursing my son and didn't want to give that up but I did so I could start antidepressants. Thank God I did!

Thanks, Marci. It's really therapeutic to be able to talk about my experience.

Oh, and like everything else in life, there's a great blog dedicated to PPD. It's and I wish I'd known about it when I needed it!


  1. Great interview, I love talk shows! or talk blogs? with problems..... I know it makes me sound ......
    Gotta go think on that...what kind of person enjoys other people's problems....
    Oh I will be stewing on that for a while.
    Keep writng, both of you.


  2. Great post Marci. I know from my experience with PPD, that is totally sucks and is the worst feeling ever. I still feel guilty for treating Emily like she was a "chore I had to check off my list" I had a hard time bonding with her and wish so hard that I could go back regain those first precious 7 weeks with her that I lost while in my dark hole.

  3. My PPD experience was similiar. I didn't feel any negative emotions toward my baby. I just felt alone, even though I was surrounded by people who loved me. I rejected help, even though I wanted and needed it desperately. It felt like a dark cloud followed me everywhere I went, although I didn't go many places. On my 6th week check-up, my OB asked how I was feeling...really feeling. That's when I broke down. It was insanely emotional. I felt totally out of control. My OB suggested me taking a mild anti-depressant. It worked like a charm. I wasn't able to breastfeed after that, but I know today that I made the right decision. Talking about this openly helps others. Great blog post! Great interview!

  4. I love this post. I love it that people are taking this more seriously.

  5. Great post- had it after Andrew was born. So glad you posted on this subject. Did you know there is post-adoptive depression also? Interesting if you think about it.

  6. Hi Marci,
    Pleased to have you drop into my blog and enjoyed my return visit. Your interview and highlight on PPD is excellent and most worthwhile. If it triggers a doctors visit for reader, you will have done a wonderful thing.Keep up the good work.

  7. Great post and interview Marci. You may make just that difference in someone's life, and save them.
    All depression is real, it's just such a hidden illness.
    Have a wonderful day!


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