There are many moms who experience postpartum depression after birth. According to the website About.com, “Up to 80% of all new mothers will experience mild baby blues, while about 10% of women will develop postpartum depression.” To help understand postpartum depression I have interviewed Dr. Rosalind S. Dorlen.
Tell me a little bit about yourself.
“I have been a clinical Psychologist in private practice in Summit NJ for over 30 years. I am on the staff of Overlook Hospital in Summit, NJ, past president of the New Jersey Psychological Association, serve as chair the Public Education Committee of the New Jersey Psychological Association, and am the NJ Public Education Coordinator of the American Psychological Association. In 2005, I was appointed by then NJ Governor Richard Codey to serve on the New Jersey Task Force for postpartum depression. I was then asked to chair the Task Force’s Public Education and Awareness Subcommittee. One of the most gratifying outcomes of this effort was the New Jersey “Mother’s Law” which mandated screening, education, research and referral for women with postpartum depression. I am happy to say that since the passage of the Health Care Law, the Mother’s Law has now become federal law and every state has funds to educate the public about postpartum depression as well as extend research in an important area that affects not only mothers and their babies but siblings and families, as well. BTW, I am not an auto mechanic without a car. I have two grown children and two grandchildren.”
What is postpartum depression?
“Postpartum depression is a form of depression that for many women can occur shortly after the birth of a baby or when a women has miscarried. Postpartum depression occurs across cultural, racial, religious and socio-economic lines. Interestingly, there is a lot of data that suggests that while there are strong hormonal factors for women’s PPD, men can experience postpartum depression, as well. In serious cases, which is to say, those that are more severe than the garden variety “baby blues” a women’s life can be severely compromised.”
What are the signs of postpartum depression?
“Many of the women patients in my psychotherapy practice that I treat for postpartum depression report difficulty sleeping (which is a big problem, since most postpartum women on a good day are severely sleep deprived), they may be irritable with significant others or with their other children, feel hopeless and guilty because of the frightening thoughts they have about harming their baby and cry a lot more than the normal amount of crying most women in the throes of the ” just baby blues”. Many have little interest in their friends, family, sex and life just feels as though it has lost its joy and pleasure. Some additional symptoms may include restlessness or agitation, the sense of not being able to just sit down and relax, feelings of dread and severe anxiety.”
What type of impact does postpartum depression have on a person’s life?
“For the woman who has postpartum depression (and I’m not talking about postpartum psychosis, which is far more devastating), she may be unable (or unwilling) to take care of her baby. She may feel awful since she can’t understand why she is so miserable when she “expected” to be so happy. This discrepancy between her unrealistic expectations and the very sad reality of her feeling can produce loss of self esteem and the feeling that she is a “bad mother”. She can’t simply “snap out of it” as so many people may be telling her to do.”
What type of help is available for someone who has postpartum depression?
“Postpartum depression (as well as any other form of depression) is a treatable mental health condition that responds well to a combination of psychotherapy (talk therapy), relaxation exercises, development of assertiveness skills so that one is able to ask and accept help, support groups, and in some cases medication for depression.”
What advice would you like to give to someone who has postpartum depression?
“I would advise that she speak to her ob/gyn, request a psychological consultation, reach out to resources such www.njspeakup.gov speak with members of her family and/or significant other to get the right treatment. PPD is a treatable condition and I would hope that a women would be provided with necessary resources to help her get through this difficult time.”
Thank you Dr. Rosalind S. Dorlen for the interview. If you would like more information about Dr. Rosalind S. Dorlen check out her website at www.drdorlen.com.