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  • K. McConnell, R. Psych.

Motherhood and depression

Besser and colleagues stated that “few experiences in a woman’s life have more transformative power than pregnancy and motherhood”. Being a mother myself, I believe this to be true. Postpartum Depression (PPD) and its prevention and treatment is an important societal issue. New mothers are busy, sensitive, and remarkably strong individuals, so we must talk about motherhood and depression. I believe that this special group need help and support. Some new mums feel guilty about going to therapy and taking time away from their infant; or perhaps they are concerned about pharmacological treatments and how they would affect their ability to breastfeed; and most importantly, mothers want solutions that would fit with their roles, values, and lifestyle. Therefore, I feel that it is important to approach treatment of PPD with these views in mind. What do you want from treatment? What are your concerns? Can you find balance between life's roles?

Women should be provided a menu of treatment options of which they can discuss the costs and benefits with their counsellor or doctor. For example, there are talk therapies and pharmacotherapies that can be used to treat PPD. However, there are also complimentary treatments that can be included, such as exercise, healthy nutrition, light therapy, meditation, massage, and acupuncture. Exercise has also been linked to a mitigation of anxious symptoms (Herring, O’Connor, & Dishman, 2010). Perhaps OBP is the right choice for combining exercise with therapy to support the treatment of your PPD?

Having a tribe is vital when you have PPD. An understanding spouse, kind friend, and a knowledgable therapist all help. Online support groups and message boards might also provide a source of support for women and their families. For example, there is a wonderful tool that a husband and wife can access from this website: the Postpartum Pact for Couples . This pact helps a woman with PPD and her spouse understand each of their roles in the road to recovery. This tool can help the couple work together to overcome PPD.

The most effective approach in supporting woman with PPD involves considering woman with PPD individually when devising a treatment plan. This approach honours the uniqueness of each woman’s contextual circumstances. If you are suffering from postpartum depression or baby blues, perhaps it's time to reach out to a therapist. In fact, the Psychologists Association of Alberta recently posted this article relating to PPD:

Mother and Child Holding Hands
Mother and Child Holding Hands

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