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Postpartum Depression: Overcoming the Shame

Posted Aug 24 2008 1:49pm
WENDY, HAD POSTPARTUM DEPRESSION: I felt guilty 'cause I didn't think that I was a good mother. You know, like watching my mother and, you know, my husband take care of her and have that bond with her, I didn't have it.

ANNOUNCER: Like most women who suffer from postpartum depression, Wendy was overcome with shame.

SHARI LUSSKIN, MD: The shame has to do with a belief that when the baby comes out you're going to love that baby and you're going to be a perfect mother. The problem is, women with postpartum depression don't feel bonded to the baby. And not only does it feel bad personally, but it engenders so much shame and guilt, and nobody wants to talk about it. And that also keeps them from seeking proper treatment.

ANNOUNCER: Thoughts of harming the baby, either accidentally or on purpose, add to the shame.

WENDY, HAD POSTPARTUM DEPRESSION: I was sitting here, watching the movie and I looked down at Madison and I went to pick her up, 'cause she was crying and her head snapped back. And I said to myself, "Oh, my God." You know, "Is she okay? Did I harm her? Did I do that on purpose?"

SHARI LUSSKIN, MD: There is such a stigma that even women who are in ongoing psychiatric treatment may not reveal what's going on in a supportive environment, particularly when it comes to those obsessive thoughts.

ANNOUNCER: But experts like Dr. Lusskin say most women with postpartum depression are not a danger to their babies, especially if they get treatment.

SHARI LUSSKIN, MD: There are rarely women who are becoming psychotic who have these kind of thoughts, but also have lost the ability to distinguish what's real from what's not real. And they may in fact be at risk of doing harm to the child, and may need emergency medical attention. But the majority of women do not.

ANNOUNCER: Talking to other women who'd been through it helped Wendy overcome her fear and shame.

WENDY, HAD POSTPARTUM DEPRESSION: There was a support group, there was what's called "Moms on Call," which are mothers that have been through it that are there just to talk. You know, it's one thing to see a doctor, but it's another thing to talk to someone that's actually been there, you know? And that helped so much

ANNOUNCER: Wendy has this message for women suffering from postpartum depression.

WENDY, HAD POSTPARTUM DEPRESSION: They're not to blame and they're not alone. You know, and they're absolutely 100% gonna get better.

ANNOUNCER: Thanks for joining us on today's Once Daily.

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