My Rant about Natural Remedies for PPD

My husband e-mailed me this link on Valentine’s Day asking me if I had seen this article.  I clicked and read the entire article.  I became more and more irritated.  http://www.foxnews.com/health/2013/02/14/skin-to-skin-contact-natural-way-to-treat-postpartum-depression/

I breastfed my little Skeeter, so we did do skin to skin contact while I nursed.  Nursing was the only time that I did not feel the prickles of anxiety.  If I could have, I would have scratched myself until I bled. One of the telltale physical signs of my anxiety is when I start scratching myself. As I have mentioned in previous posts, I could not just sit still. I had to do something – fold laundry, sweep, wash dishes, organize the girls’ clothes. My postpartum weight loss was accelerated by my anxiety. The only time that I sat still was to nurse Skeeter.

This natural approach would not have worked for me. I was suffering from moderate to severe postpartum anxiety and moderate postpartum depression. The claim that the postpartum depression is on the rise is not backed up with any facts. Is it possible that the increased awareness surrounding postpartum mood disorders is causing more women to open up to their doctors? Katherine Stone’s blog Postpartum Progress is the most widely read blog on postpartum mood disorders.  A flourishing community of Warrior Moms blog about their postpartum struggles. 

I recovered by participating actively in my care. I focused on my physical needs by getting enough rest, by making sure that I ate a variety of healthy foods, and by exercising. I read blogs and books about postpartum mood disorders to increase my understanding and empower myself. I focused on nurturing my creativity by writing, dancing and singing.  I addressed both the biochemical and psychosocial components through appointments with my therapist, medication and participating in an online support group #ppdchat.

My take on this article is that it is condescending to the moms who are trying to recover from their postpartum mood disorders without using medication. This article neglects to mention how crucial social support is for the new mom. It also fails to take into account the fundamental identity shift that occurs once a woman becomes a mother.  My opinion is that all aspects need to be addressed for a woman to recover from her postpartum mood disorder: biochemical, emotional, psychosocial, and spiritual.

About tranquilamama

Juggling parenthood, housework and working outside the home in the corporate world with my wonderful husband. Mom to 2 beautiful girls. PPD and PPA survivor. The title of my blog is after a phrase that was repeated to me in Spain during my semester abroad in college. It roughly translates to relax and calm down. Trying to tame my inner perfectionist and just be a good enough mom.
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8 Responses to My Rant about Natural Remedies for PPD

  1. I agree with you and would like to add that articles like that can be dangerous in that they encourage women to continue to try to self-treat. My mom handed me an article a few months into my treatment with the first round of PPD about how this one lady turned off all electronic devices in her home and it cured all her mood issues. I was surprised how enraged it made me feel. As if it were “just that simple.”

    • Susan, I agree with you that it can be dangerous. These studies are presented as the gospel truth. What if some mom thinks she can continue to make it alone without any help and then ends up in a serious crisis situation? I had to really watch my reading of blogs and journals while I was really sick. I stuck to reading reputable books and firsthand accounts of Warrior Moms and memoirs of survivors of postpartum mood disorders. If only we could pinpoint one thing, but motherhood and postpartum mood disorders are multi-faceted. We need to treat the whole mama.

  2. ivyshihleung says:

    You go, Jenny! You have such valid points, and so glad you shared them in this blog post! It is indeed frustrating when you see misleading info regarding PPD being put out there by news outlets. But then again, this is Fox News (or “Faux News”) we are talking about, right? Not surprising. But still, we PPD advocates need to speak up, not just to share out experiences, but to spread awareness and squash stigma…which means pointing out misinformation as they appear. Women with PPD can’t just “snap out of it.” PPD is an illness that has biopsychosocial causes, and as such, as you mention in your last sentence, those factors (which are unique from one mom to the next) need to be addressed in order for PPD to be successfully treated. I have a sneaking suspicion that this is yet another example of people mistaking the blues with PPD. Skin to skin contact may help with lowering stress levels for a new mom or a mom with the postpartum blues (totally different from PPD). Aside from seeking social support, a mom with PPD needs to seek professional help to address her unique situation. Usually, treatment entails a combination of medication and therapy. For me, medication was able to return me quickly (within 4 weeks) to a functioning individual–one that was not an insomniac, suffered from panic attacks, lack of appetite and weight loss, etc.

    • Thank you Ivy! I thought of your book specifically after reading this article. We need a tailored, unique treatment plan for each mom. This article seemed to dismiss all the factors that go into postpartum mood disorders. That is what made me so frustrated. I benefited from medication, therapy, social support, the online support and reading up on postpartum mood disorders.

  3. story says:

    When I was struggling, this was the kind of article I sought out and craved – the kind that told me exactly what concrete step I should do to fix myself. What should I eat, what yoga poses should I do? How could I make it just go away?

    The answer was I couldn’t. It was part of me. What I needed was to learn to accept myself and to learn the skills to deal with the challenges. It was hard work but worth it.

    • I agree. I was reading articles and blogs. It wasn’t until I started reading Postpartum Progress and books about postpartum mood disorders that I realized yoga, sleep and exercise were only part of the equation. I needed to look at all aspects of my life and work on myself in order to learn different coping skills. It was worth it. I feel like I can do anything since I overcame postpartum depression and postpartum anxiety.

  4. I couldn’t agree more. I felt the same way reading that article – like it was being condescending to me because I was unable to be “cured” through physical contact with my child. Breastfeeding didn’t work out for us, and I may never know why, but that was yet another thing that was added to my perceived arsenal of failure as a new mom.

    As much as I love to see people succeed in recovering through natural methods, this whole experience has made me realize that sometimes it’s not enough. Sometimes you can’t be “fixed” without medical intervention. And I’m so glad that medical intervention, talk therapy and social support is out there for myself and so many other women who need it.

    • Exactly. I would not have recovered as quickly as I did without talk therapy, medication and social support. Medication helped me take the edge off of my anxiety so I could focus on my negative self-talk and coping strategies.

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