Over at The Boston Globe, documentary filmmaker and writer Jody Santos shares her experience with antepartum depression. Have you heard of that, pregnant women experiencing depression despite wanting the baby? Santos calls it “the pregnancy taboo,” and early in her article she observes that many people already know about postpartum depression (PPD), but few know about antepartum depression.
Santos credits Brooke Shields with making people more aware of PPD. I agree. Shields has had a significant impact. She wrote a book about her PPD in 2005 and later faced judgmental comments from Tom Cruise. Cruise apologized for his insensitivity two days ago. And as Santos and BlogHer Contributing Editor Jenn Satterwhite point out, Shields even testified before Congress this May about the illness. (Maybe all those men listening to Shields helped Cruise see the error of his ways.)
I can add to the list of those talking openly about PPD writers like Katherine Stone, who blogs about the ins and outs of PPD and progress in "the treatment and comfort" PPD. Also, ClickOnDetroit.com posted a recent article about a one mother who reaches out to mothers with postpartum depression. I even have a story about my own PPD experience. I went through PPD sixteen years ago before people talked about it as often.
That’s part of the point in Jody Santos’ article. Today people talk about PPD more often, and so, we know more about PPD than we do about antepartum depression, which is an equally devastating illness, says Santos. She also says that women are ashamed to speak up about their experiences with antepartum depression because society likes the image of happy, joyful, pregnant women:
… Antepartum depression, which occurs during, not after, pregnancy, is a kind of orphan disease in the media, with few celebrities willing to adopt it as a cause. … It's as if most people can accept a mother who becomes depressed after giving birth, when the reality of caring for a newborn sets in. However, in this "post-feminist" world of family values, it seems far too taboo to dissect feelings women may have about being pregnant in the first place. As a result, depressed pregnant women often stay silent, putting themselves and their babies at risk. (The Pregnancy Taboo, emphasis added)
The article moves on to a study indicating one in five women experience antepartum depression. If that study is valid, then more of us have pregnant friends, relatives, and neighbors experiencing this type of depression than we know. Do you know of anyone who's experienced antepartum depression, or is that fifth woman be you?
You can learn more about antepartum depression at this link. In addition, WebMD has an informative article called "8 Myths About Depression," which debunks myths but also has warnings about taking antidepressants while pregnant.
Nordette Adams is a BlogHer Contributing Editor.
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