Monthly Archives: June 2009

Just Talkin’ Tuesday 06.30.09

With last week’s debut so full of seriousness, I thought it’d be best to balance things out a bit with a lighter topic.

Sleep!

sleeping mamaAs parents, we all know how meaningful sleep can be – it’s precious lifeblood which lets us function – and when we don’t get it, World watch out! Unfortunately, those of us who struggle with a Postpartum Mood Disorder on top of the common parental experience of dazed consciousness are really in trouble. You see, it’s been proven over and over in research that sleep has something to do with our psyche. And guess what – lack of sleep can exacerbate symptoms of Postpartum Mood or Anxiety Disorders! Great, you say? Yeah, well, that was my reaction too when I first read the research. I mean, really, why did they even bother researching this topic? Isn’t it common knowledge? BUT… they did research it… and now we have something concrete to point to when our beloved partners are befuddled at our new-found obsession with sleep.

So here’s today’s topic:

Share with us what effect (if any) sleepless nights had on your Postpartum Experience. Did you sleep? Did you not sleep? When you woke up, were you rested or did you wish you could go back to sleep? What strategies did you use to help regulate your sleep? Did you read? Watch TV? Play on the Internet?

Here are some basic suggestions for those who are STILL struggling with sleep.

Get into a routine. At a certain point in the evening (if you can – we all know how unpredictable babies can be!), start a certain chain of events that will lead to you crawling er, collapsing into bed.

Once in bed, if you lay there awake, GET back up and go somewhere else. Watch TV or read for 30 minutes. Bathe, shower, drink some hot milk. Then get back in bed. Don’t stay in bed if you’re awake. This will cause you not to associate bed with just sleep. (which completely defeats the purpose!)

Have your partner take a night feeding and let you sleep for at least 5-6 hours at night. (Even if you’re nursing DO this – and have your partner get baby ready for nursing by changing diaper, etc, so you can get a few extra minutes!)

Remember – if you are not sleeping and/or have difficulty sleeping for more than a week, call your doctor. This is not the time to hold off on getting relief!

You can read more at this website about sleep disorders and difficulties.

Just Talkin’ Tuesday: Religion/Spirituality & Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders

Just talkin tuesday logo

(Yes, I know it’s Monday. Realized that AFTER promoting at Twitter & Facebook. I was just so darn excited about this post I had to put it up an entire day early!)

Welcome to the very first “Just Talkin’ Tuesday!” Glad you could make it.

Have a seat! Share some thoughts!

Over the past few years, I have come to embrace my own Christian faith as what has carried me through my experience with Postpartum Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. A favorite quote of mine is by Mother Theresa – “God will never give you more than you can handle. I just wish he didn’t trust me so much!” (I paraphrased so not sure if that’s the precise wording or not!) And over the past few years, somehow, I’ve managed to earn a LOT of God’s trust. I don’t quite know how I achieved such a feat but alas, I did and here I am.

The past week has had a couple of interesting things tossed my way. The first was the inclusion of a link to an Islamic forum post dealing with postpartum depression. It’s specifically about a woman who’s husband has recently passed away but someone used the term Postpartum Depression in one of their discussions so Google quickly catalogued it for me. (Ain’t I lucky?!) You can read the post here. I found it quite fascinating because there is not a lot of information out there for the general public in relation to Islam and Depression. In fact, one of the posts includes a link to a PDF version of a book entitled Don’t Be Sad written by Aid ibn Abdullah al-Quarni. I skimmed through the table of contents and the introduction. Seems fascinating.

The other topic I found fascinating was coming across Stacey’s blog. Stacey is an atheist, a belief she has every right to hold, but I find personally hard to understand, especially given the role that faith and God has played in my own recovery. It’s really got me thinking about some things. (You can learn more about atheism via wikipedia by clicking here.)

And that brings us to the topic for today.

As you (or a loved one) journeyed through Postpartum Mood or Anxiety Disorder, what role, if any, did your faith/spiritual belief play in your recovery? Was it minimized or maximized? Did you completely change course? What are some of the sentiments your faith expresses about mental illness? Were you outcast because of your struggle or decision to treat with medication? How were you expected to treat your illness?

Let’s get to Just Talkin’ here!

Meet Stacey – A Brand New Blogging Voice

I came across this blog just the other day and wanted to send some of you her way.

Stacey is a new mom still recovering from Postpartum Depression. Just as many of us who blog about our own recovery, Stacey wants to add her own perspective. She has a very unique perspective indeed – Stacey is an atheist – which she feels has led to challenges with her treatment, including rejection by counselors. Each of us has our own journey to tread through life. While on my own journey, I have constantly sought to respect and support whatever that may mean for other mothers without placing judgement. I sincerely hope that you, my readers, have chosen to do the same and will view Stacey’s story with that in mind.

Stacey hopes to provide support to other mothers because, in her own words, “I would like this blog to be a vehicle to get information out there. I know there are so many different resources but a lot of them lack a personal perspective, and sometimes knowing you’re not broken, that there is someone who feels or has felt the same way you feel is validating and makes you feel better.”

You can keep up with Stacey’s blog by clicking here.

Spiffy New Commenting Abilities!

Ok, so maybe not spiffy. And maybe not so new to those of you with WordPress accounts.

But for those of you WITHOUT WordPress accounts, you may want to do a happy dance. Or not. 😉

I discovered today that apparently I had the comment setting “Users must be registered and logged in” turned on. NO Wonder my “Share the Journey with You” Posts were wildly unpopular!

Ooops.

My sincerest apologies to those who have wanted to comment but have not had a wordpress account to do so with.

I have de-activated this setting.

Now even more of you will be able to comment here at Sharing the Journey. I am excited about this and can’t wait to see what crops up.

In fact, I think I may even add a new discussion feature called Just Talkin’ Tuesday. I’ll blog about a particular mood disorder or story and invite comments, questions, etc from experts, parents, caregivers, etc. I really want to encourage those of you who read this blog to SHARE the Journey. I’ve been amazed at the connections I’ve made in the two years I’ve been out and about in this Perinatal Advocacy land and definitely want to continue to pay it all forward!

Tips on Identifying Reliable Health Information on the Internet

If you’ve landed here as a result of a Google, Yahoo,  Bing, or other search engine, you already know how many results you can get in mere seconds and even sometimes nano-seconds. Thousands! So you wade through the results hoping for reliable and trustworthy information. Unfortunately, not everything out there is reliable and trustworthy. And even if it is reliable and trustworthy, you should ALWAYS check with a professional prior to implementing or stopping any treatment.

Here are some general tips to help you tell the good from the bad (source: Medical Library Association):

1. Sponsorship
  • Can you easily identify the site sponsor? Sponsorship is important because it helps establish the site as respected and dependable. Does the site list advisory board members or consultants? This may give you further insights on the credibility of information published on the site.
  • The web address itself can provide additional information about the nature of the site and the sponsor’s intent.
    • A government agency has .gov in the address.
    • An educational institution is indicated by .edu in the address.
    • A professional organization such as a scientific or research society will be identified as .org. For example, the American Cancer Society’s website is http://www.cancer.org/.
    • Commercial sites identified by .com will most often identify the sponsor as a company, for example Merck & Co., the pharmaceutical firm.
  • What should you know about .com health sites? Commercial sites may represent a specific company or be sponsored by a company using the web for commercial reasons—to sell products. At the same time, many commercial websites have valuable and credible information. Many hospitals have .com in their address. The site should fully disclose the sponsor of the site, including the identities of commercial and noncommercial organizations that have contributed funding, services, or material to the site.
2. Currency
  • The site should be updated frequently. Health information changes constantly as new information is learned about diseases and treatments through research and patient care. websites should reflect the most up-to-date information.
  • The website should be consistently available, with the date of the latest revision clearly posted. This usually appears at the bottom of the page.
3. Factual information
  • Information should be presented in a clear manner. It should be factual (not opinion) and capable of being verified from a primary information source such as the professional literature, abstracts, or links to other web pages.
  • Information represented as an opinion should be clearly stated and the source should be identified as a qualified professional or organization.
4. Audience
  • The website should clearly state whether the information is intended for the consumer or the health professional.
  • Many health information websites have two different areas – one for consumers, one for professionals. The design of the site should make selection of one area over the other clear to the user.

MLA’s guidelines are an excellent starting point and should be used by anyone searching for Medical information on the internet. Many caregivers will also tell you to not search the web for information, especially if you have a Postpartum Mood Disorder. If you have a question and feel overwhelmed with doing research on your own, get in touch with a Postpartum Support International Coordinator, your midwife, or your doctor, and ask for help in doing research. Sometimes you may come across research or news stories that are not applicable to your situation that may cause triggering thoughts or increase your fear and anxiety without justification.

Another great way to check the reliability of a website is to do so through HONcode. HONcode, Health on the Net certifies websites with healthcare information. Their standards are pretty high and they certify on a random basis once a website has been accepted. (I’m currently working on acheiving this certification for this blog myself). Through HONcode, as a patient/consumer, you can download a toolbar or search directly from their site and will only be given websites that have been approved by them. Click here to learn more about the safety process at HONcode.

I also want to take a moment to mention that a good doctor or advocate will be compassionate, understanding, and work with you regarding your desired route of treatment. Good Caregivers and Advocates are able to stay objective and not allow personal experience to cloud their aid to those who seek their help. This does not dismiss advocates who have specialized knowledge of certain types of treatment however – what I mean by this statement is that if you approach and advocate with a question regarding an Anti-Depressant, they should direct you to research regarding that particular medication and encourage you to also speak with your caregiver. They should NOT bash said medication because they’ve had a bad experience with it. If the caregiver or advocate is not compassionate but instead dismisses or attacks your desired treatment methods, it’s time to find another caregiver or advocate for support.

As a Postpartum Support International Coordinator myself, I work very hard to support the journey the mother is on and the treatment route that best fits with her personal philosophy. I encourage the involvement of professionals – including her OB or midwife, a psychiatrist, and a therapist. I also encourage Mom to take time for herself, something we all forget to do from time to time, but is very important for our mental well-being.

So please remember to:

Thoroughly check the source of the information you are reading online using the above guidelines from the Medical Library Association as well as searching via HONcode for your information.

Double-check any information regarding starting treatment or stopping treatment with your professional caregiver prior to implementation.

Make sure your caregiver respects your opinion regarding your body. (You are of course, your #1 expert in this area!) If he/she fails to respect you, although it may be difficult, find another caregiver who DOES respect you!

Take time for yourself as you heal.

Dr. Zachary Stowe reprimanded by Emory

Dr. Zachary Stowe, a well-known researcher in the field of anti-depressant usage during pregnancy and postpartum, has been disciplined by Emory University for failing to disclose a conflict of interest while conducting research using a NIH grant during 2007 and 2008. Dr. Charles Nemeroff, also of Emory, was also found to have existing conflicts while conducting research just a few months ago.

These disheartening discoveries are becoming too commonplace. What’s happened to honest, decent morals? What’s happened to working for the greater good instead of the not-so-almighty dollar?

I must say that my initial reaction was one of very deep disappointment as this is all unfolding in my own backyard. Emory is one of the most well known resources for Postpartum support here in Georgia. Without Emory, there’s not much left to the support and knowledge of Postpartum Mood Disorders and their treatment here. (Trust me, I’ve worked to find one!)

I sincerely hope both Dr. Nemeroff and Dr. Stowe have learned important lessons through all of this. I also hope other researchers will realize the importance of honesty when disclosing relationships during research.

The public deserves un-biased data when it comes to our health. Has that even become too much to ask for?

Postpartum Anxiety Delays Puberty in Offspring

In another study with mice, researchers have discovered that a low level of Prolactin in early pregnancy translates to a delay in puberty. The results were revealed yesterday at The Endocrine Society’s 91st Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C.

The most interesting aspect of this research was the discovery that regardless of environment (ie, raised by an anxious mouse or non-anxious mouse), the offspring of the “anxious” mice still experienced a delay of puberty when raised by a controlled non-anxious mother.

Here’s a snippet of the press release:

Women have an increased rate of anxiety during pregnancy and for 2 years after giving birth, said the study’s lead author, Caroline Larsen, PhD, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Otago in Dunedin, New Zealand.

“Postpartum anxiety disorders are poorly understood and difficult to treat,” Larsen said. “There is growing evidence that untreated anxiety disorder during pregnancy may contribute to premature birth and also can have major and lasting adverse effects on the infant’s development and behavior.”

Prolactin is a hormone that may protect against anxiety. Recently Larsen and her co-workers found that mice with induced low levels of prolactin in early pregnancy displayed substantial anxiety after they gave birth. Because the researchers also noted that daughters of the anxious mothers had delayed onset of puberty, they conducted the current study to learn what causes this late physical transition to sexual maturation.

Daughters of female mice made anxious by low prolactin were raised either by their birth mother or by a mouse who was not anxious (control mother). Another group consisted of daughters of nonanxious mice, and these mice were raised by either a control mother or an anxious mother. There were at least six mice in each of the four groups. The researchers determined onset of puberty by examining when the vagina opened and noting the time of first estrus (equivalent to the first menstrual cycle in humans).

“Remarkably, puberty was still delayed even if the daughters of anxious mothers were raised by nonanxious mice,” Larsen said. “And delayed puberty also occurred in daughters born to nonanxious mothers who were raised by anxious mothers.”

This result demonstrates that hormonal changes in early pregnancy, as well as changes in maternal behavior caused by these hormone changes, can alter brain development in the offspring and delay puberty, she explained. Larsen believes that their work, with further study, may translate to people.

“Finding the hormonal mechanisms that trigger the timing of puberty in mice may help identify potential targets for the prevention and treatment of delayed or early puberty in humans,” she said.

Late puberty in humans is linked to shortened height and psychological problems that can persist into adulthood.

FDA forms “Transparency Task Force”

In a press release today, the FDA announced the formation of a Transparency Task Force.

It’s about time the FDA opened the doors to it’s process. As consumers, we deserve to know all the risks involved with anything we ingest as food or use to treat our mental or physical illnesses. For far too long companies have been able to use the FDA’s slow process as a shield to hide behind, harming consumers in the process. This abuse has to stop if we are to have any hope of a fair economy. We need to be able to trust in those who provide our sustenance and medications.

The FDA invites public opinion and has scheduled an open meeting for June 24th. They also have a blog dedicated to this Task Force at their website that will run for the next six months.

“Our administration is committed to making government open and transparent,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. “The Transparency Task Force will give the American people a seat at the table and make the FDA more open and accountable.”

“President Obama has pledged to strengthen our democracy by creating an unprecedented level of openness and public participation in government, and the FDA looks forward to participating in this process,” said FDA Commissioner Margaret A. Hamburg, M.D. “I have asked the Transparency Task Force to deliver recommendations to me for ways to make more information available and foster better understanding of decision-making.”

Taken directly from the FDA’s press release, the following are goals of the Task Force:

The Transparency Task Force will:

  • Seek public input on issues related to transparency;
  • Recommend ways that the agency can better explain its operations compatible with the appropriate protection of confidential information;
  • Identify information the FDA should provide about specific agency operations and activities, including enforcement actions and product approvals;
  • Identify problems and barriers, both internal and external, to providing useful and understandable information about FDA activities and decision-making to the public;
  • Identify appropriate tools and new technologies for informing the public;
  • Recommend changes to the FDA’s current operations, including internal policies and guidance, to improve the agency’s ability to provide information to the public in a timely and effective manner;
  • Recommend legislative or regulatory changes, if appropriate, to improve the FDA’s ability to provide information to the public; and
  • Submit a written report to the commissioner on the Transparency Task Force’s findings and recommendations.