The Negative Effect of Dr. Google & PPD

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I recently had the opportunity to attend and present at the 2017 Stanford Medicine X conference in California with our team at the brand new Maternal Mental Health Research Collaborative, and it was definitely an experience like no other. I wanted to share with you a bit about the work I presented so I’ve broken it down into a three part blog piece. Today on the blog I will be talking about Dr. Google and PPD, how self-management and denial deeply affect the recovery process.

Denial is such a common experience for most mothers experiencing a postpartum mood & anxiety disorder (PMAD), myself included. Searching the internet you find a huge range of experiences which tend to lack a lot of background content and doesn’t paint a full picture of what’s really happening in these women’s lives. So of course, out of fear and a need to protect yourself somehow, you start building walls of denial unintentionally, or at least I did. So you start telling yourself “This isn’t happening to me, I’m a good mom, I’m a rational person, I should be able to get over this. You know, just do more yoga, eat more vegetables and somehow create more structure in the midst of this chaos and everything will be fine…. Well, turns out it wasn’t.

The Damage of denial is so significant and it’s a driving force for a lot of the work we do in our communities. For me, the denial not only created a huge delay in my ability to seek and receive proper treatment but the longer I suffered, the more guilt, shame and regret I felt which made the mountain of recovery feel even larger. Of course, then there’s the child and family unit we need to look at. The longer a woman suffers, the family does as well. Postpartum Depression is not just about the women experiencing it first hand as it’s been directly link to adverse childhood outcomes as well, such as higher rates of anxiety in young children, inability to regulate emotions, and a decrease in the development of motor skills and language.

It’s very frustrating at times to see so much money invested into early years programs across the country, yet we fail to prioritize maternal mental health even though we know, without a doubt, that her health is the biggest influencer in the health of her child. We need to make a shift. We need to put moms first!

Self-management without proper supports in place basically fuels the fire of denial. It’s completely trial and error and really only sets you up to fail. In my experience, during the peak of my PPD I could barely get out of bed and even when I did, I was constantly fighting this roller coaster that was filled with bursts of rage and downpours of tears, not to mention the daily stresses of caring for a newborn and a toddler at home alone all day. When I finally got to the numb stage somewhere in between, I would search the internet for the next “fix” or the next thing I could try to do to tackle this insanity on my own. But when your brain is so confused, exhausted and overwhelmed to make the simplest decisions like what shoe to put on first, you can imagine how unrealistic it is to think clearly about a treatment plan.

This is why awareness is an essential part of the whole picture. We need our new mothers to understand what a PMAD is. We need to change as a culture and come to recognize that a postpartum mood disorder is first of all, the #1 birth complication to date, and is TEMPORARY & TREATABLE. If we keeping fighting to get to this point, women will no longer have to waste precious time trying to figure it out on their own.

If you are in this same stage today, the back and forth of denial and self-management, you are NOT alone.

As a certified labour doula, specializing is postpartum social support, I work one on one with women and provide guidance and support as you begin building a plan that works for you. I would love to help in any way I can, so please email me today to set up a session so you can begin feeling better much sooner.

-Sara
sara@familyfirstdoulas.com