Postpartum Depression

For decades. . . Many new mothers have suffered in silence at the hands of a relentless aggressor. It’s an attack of the mind and body called postpartum depression. For some women, the condition is so severe, they elect not to have any more children. But a new drug study is offering hope for prevention.

Behind the romanticized view of motherhood. . . Lie dirty diapers. . . High pitched cries and at times… a devastating illness. Ten to fifteen percent of new mothers suffer from postpartum depression.

It’s not just an illness of feelings, it’s a whole body illness. So that things we usually think about as regulatory functions like appetite, sleep, concentration, attention — are all affected. Lenore Maul knows just how bad postpartum depression can be. After the birth of her middle child, she was incapacitated for weeks.

Lenore Maul, Mother:

“I couldn’t be alone at all. And yet, I couldn’t take care of myself or my children. My first son was years old and he didn’t know what to make of it. . . why is mommy completely losing it here? And I couldn’t give him an answer.”

Research shows women who experience postpartum depression stand a 30 to 60 percent chance of having another bout with it when they have another child. In the first-ever study aimed at preventing repeat episodes. . . University Hospitals of Cleveland are testing the effectiveness of the anti-depressant drug — nortriptyline — given to mothers 24 hours after birth and continued for 20 weeks.

With the birth of her third son, medication has made all the difference in the world for Lenore.

Pilot research showed new moms who took the medication had substantially less recurrences of major depression than untreated mothers. Incidentally, many new moms fear medication because they want to breast feed. But each situation should be evaluated by your doctor on a case by case basis.

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