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Pregnancy Blues: What Every Woman Needs to Know about Depression During Pregnancy

by Shaila Misri

PUBLISHED: 26th September 2006
ISBN: 9780385338677
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PUBLISHED: 26th September 2006
ISBN: 9780385338677

Annotation

It should be a time of joyous anticipation-the happiest time in a woman's life. But for many women, the joys of pregnancy are clouded by feelings of fear, sadness, and confusion. And unlike postpartum depression, which is widely portrayed in the media and embraced by the medical community, depression during pregnancy has been rarely discussed and often misunderstood-until now. In this groundbreaking book-the first to focus exclusively on depression in pregnancy-Dr. Shaila Kulkarni Misri, a leading reproductive psychiatrist, draws on her twenty-five years of clinical practice and research to offer hope, help, and healing-as well as a provocative, myth-shattering examination of a subject that has too long been shrouded in darkness. The numbers are surprising: up to 70 percent of pregnant women experience some degree of depressive symptoms, and of those, 12 percent meet the diagnostic criteria for major depression. Although it is at least as common as postpartum depression, which occurs after a child's birth, pregnancy-related depression is often cloaked in silence, shame, and denial. Pregnancy Blues lifts the veil on this heartbreaking-and very treatable- illness, examining the key social and biological factors that can come together during pregnancy to create a climate in which depression and anxiety thrive, as well as offering the many effective treatments that are available. Discover:

  • How to recognize the signs and symptoms of depression-and know when to seek help
  • The role of female hormones: why women are more vulnerable to depression than men
  • How depression can "hide" behind physical complaints, such as back, stomach, or even chest pain
  • The unspokenconnection between infertility and depression
  • The antidepressant controversy: the facts on specific drugs, their safety-and when medication is the right choice
  • Breastfeeding and medication-the risks and benefits
Plus helpful self-tests and resources, information on alternative treatment options-from therapy to acupuncture-and much more. A work of daring and compassion, Pregnancy Blues challenges the underlying traditions and beliefs surrounding pregnancy and motherhood-and explores how those misconceptions have led to the drastic underdiagnosis and undertreatment of depression during pregnancy. A must-read for women and those who love them, Pregnancy Blues is at once an extraordinary roadmap to healing and an eye-opening report on a medical issue that no woman can afford to miss. "From the Hardcover edition."

Publisher Description

What Every Woman Needs to Know about Depression During Pregnancy.

Author Biography

John Grant originally invented Littlenose to entertain his children, but it went on to become a global success. He wrote and illustrated over 13 Littlenose books between 1988 and 1993 (published by Hodder and BBC books).

Review

"This groundbreaking and important book brings pregnancy-related depression out of the closet and offers effective, compassionate, and scientifically accurate solutions that can help alleviate the suffering of millions of pregnant women and the babies they are carrying." --Christiane Northrup, M.D.

Long Description

It should be a time of joyous anticipation-the happiest time in a woman's life. But for many women, the joys of pregnancy are clouded by feelings of fear, sadness, and confusion. And unlike postpartum depression, which is widely portrayed in the media and embraced by the medical community, depression during pregnancy has been rarely discussed and often misunderstood-until now. In this groundbreaking book-the first to focus exclusively on depression in pregnancy-Dr. Shaila Kulkarni Misri, a leading reproductive psychiatrist, draws on her twenty-five years of clinical practice and research to offer hope, help, and healing-as well as a provocative, myth-shattering examination of a subject that has too long been shrouded in darkness. The numbers are surprising: up to 70 percent of pregnant women experience some degree of depressive symptoms, and of those, 12 percent meet the diagnostic criteria for major depression. Although it is at least as common as postpartum depression, which occurs after a child's birth, pregnancy-related depression is often cloaked in silence, shame, and denial. Pregnancy Blues lifts the veil on this heartbreaking-and very treatable- illness, examining the key social and biological factors that can come together during pregnancy to create a climate in which depression and anxiety thrive, as well as offering the many effective treatments that are available. Discover: - How to recognize the signs and symptoms of depression-and know when to seek help - The role of female hormones: why women are more vulnerable to depression than men - How depression can "hide" behind physical complaints, such as back, stomach, or even chest pain - The unspokenconnection between infertility and depression - The antidepressant controversy: the facts on specific drugs, their safety-and when medication is the right choice - Breastfeeding and medication-the risks and benefits Plus helpful self-tests and resources, information on alternative treatment options-from therapy to acupuncture-and much more. A work of daring and compassion, Pregnancy Blues challenges the underlying traditions and beliefs surrounding pregnancy and motherhood-and explores how those misconceptions have led to the drastic underdiagnosis and undertreatment of depression during pregnancy. A must-read for women and those who love them, Pregnancy Blues is at once an extraordinary roadmap to healing and an eye-opening report on a medical issue that no woman can afford to miss. "From the Hardcover edition."

Review Quote

"This groundbreaking and important book brings pregnancy-related depression out of the closet and offers effective, compassionate, and scientifically accurate solutions that can help alleviate the suffering of millions of pregnant women and the babies they are carrying." --Christiane Northrup, M.D. From the Hardcover edition.

Excerpt from Book

1 Great Expectations CULTURAL MYTHS, CUSTOMS, AMBIGUITIES, AND MISCONCEPTIONS OF WOMANHOOD, PREGNANCY, AND MOTHERHOOD If some enterprising salesperson were to create a pregnant woman''s coloring book aimed at the North American market, it would surely come packaged with a box containing nothing but pastel crayons with names like Blissful Blue, Perfect Pink, and Mother''s Mauve. No Black Cloud, Blue Funk, or Red Rage in that crayon box! And the mothers outlined in the book for coloring would all be smiling serenely, gazing lovingly into the eyes of their partner--an equally blissed-out expectant father--and, of course, looking nothing less than beautiful. If that sounds like the Hollywood image of pregnancy, it is certainly the one that''s been sold to Western women, and that Western culture has naively bought into. For the majority of women, it is probably even a fair approximation of the truth. It is not, however, the image of pregnancy that I see every day. And if we look a little more closely at the myths and mixed messages that have historically surrounded fertility, family, and femininity not only in our society but in cultures throughout the world, we can see that--as is so often the case with the images Hollywood has for sale--this is one that may have been meant for viewing through rose-colored glasses. To begin close to home, let''s take a quick look back at the history of our own North American culture as it has grown from a mainly agrarian to a mainly technological society. In times past, when we tilled fields, worked the land, and subsisted mainly on what a single family could produce for both sale and sustenance, children were important assets. As farmers, ranchers, or even local shopkeepers, we needed those extra hands to work alongside us and help to support us. Fertility and motherhood were, therefore, valued as well, and a woman''s primary role, aside from taking care of the family homestead, was to produce and nurture children. "Mother" was a prized and universally recognized job title. I know that for many modern women, reading about the difficult and often isolated lives of those pioneer and farm wives will immediately bring to mind the now-classic advertising slogan "You''ve come a long way, baby!" And indeed we have. But that also begs the question "Where have we arrived?" In many ways, of course, the lives of twenty-first-century women are dramatically better. And it''s certainly true that, from a medical perspective, obstetrical care is better and more universally available than ever before. But what about the lives of mothers, and even the value we put on motherhood itself? For the majority of Western women today, motherhood, rather than being a primary function, has become no more than an add-on. Even those of us who truly yearn for children, who unwaveringly wish for the chance to be mothers, are unlikely either to perceive motherhood as our only goal or to have the luxury of enjoying it as our only job title. In a technologically driven society, pregnancy is too often perceived as an interruption of or an addition to other, more valued activities. At best, we are ambivalent about where pregnancy and motherhood belong on our list of priorities. "Stay-at-home mom" and "mommy track" are terms that have entered our vocabulary with a kind of stigma attached. Women who choose (and have the luxury of choosing) to opt out of the job market or limit their career path in order to spend more time with their children are often marginalized by and isolated from their working peers. Those who choose to pursue both career and motherhood, on the other hand, are often made to explain or justify their choice to those who believe they "should" stay at home. And for the majority of women who simply do not have a choice, pregnancy and motherhood present financial as well as logistical burdens that can be overwhelming. In fact, throughout history and across cultural boundaries, woman''s unique ability to bear children has put her in the position of being both worshiped and feared; it has been her source of power and her burden, a blessing and a curse. Religion and mythology, which brim not only with female fertility figures such as the Buddhist Kwan Yin, the Hindu Lakshmi, and the Egyptian Isis but also with seductresses such as Lilith and Diana, reflect this dichotomy. Even the Virgin Mary, the most universally recognized mother figure of them all, is not only blessed to be the mother of the Christ, worshiped as the intermediary between the human and the divine, but also born to bear the burden of becoming the Mater Dolorosa, the mother who weeps for the loss of her only child and the sins of humanity. This ambiguity or dual nature inherent in the concept of "womanhood" is also reflected in religious and cultural issues related to women''s bodily functions. The Orthodox Jewish community, for example, considers a menstruating woman unclean. She is forbidden to have sexual relations with her husband and required, when her period is over, to immerse herself in a ritual bath not once but three times to ensure that any lingering impurities are washed away. Here we can see the duality that exists between woman as the bearer of children and woman as temptress: if she is menstruating, she cannot become pregnant, her potential for motherhood is temporarily negated, and so for her husband to have sexual relations with her during this time would be to give in to her powers of seduction--to be, in a sense, defiled by her. Similarly, in traditional Hindu culture, women were considered both inferior to men and, at the same time, capable of seducing them away from ascetic contemplation and spiritual purity. Only through motherhood did they cement and ensure their power base through their almost total influence over their children and the household. In these and other traditional cultures, motherhood not only endows women with a kind of retrofitted purity but also initiates them into a special company of women. In many communities throughout Asia, Africa, and South America women generally give birth surrounded by other women, and following the delivery there is a traditional period of confinement during which both mother and child are tended and nurtured by women. In many cultures, there is a special birthing place set aside, which only women can enter, and very often--such as among the women of Yemen, the Gbaya of Congo, or the Seri Indians of Mexico--that can mean as many as fifteen female friends, neighbors, and family mem- bers in addition to the midwife present to witness the birth. Even in Elizabethan England, men were banned from the birthing chamber while female friends, relatives, and neighbors, known as "gossips," were invited to attend. Some, in fact, might spend days or even weeks after the birth attending the mother in her room. This "lying-in" period is still practiced in many cultures. In Cuba, for example, the new mother and her infant remain inside the home for forty-one days, during which time women from the family and the community are responsible for taking care of them. In India, women are not expected to return to their normal household chores for more than a month. Bedouin women stay home for forty days, are not allowed to cook or do housework, and are expected to rest and eat well. In China the traditional period of confinement is one month, in Malaysia it is forty-four days, and among the Igbo people of southeastern Nigeria it is one lunar month, during which time the mother is relieved of all chores, given special foods, and nursed by her own mother or an older sister. Although these are certainly periods set aside for mother and baby to bond (in most instances the infant actually remains in bed with the mother and can nurse at will) and for the mother to recover, they also mark another rite of passage--from girlhood to womanhood or, seen from another perspective, from seductress to saint. It should be pointed out, in fact, that in at least some cultures, the period of confinement is also considered a time of repurification following the "pollution" of childbirth. But how do such practices relate to pregnancy and motherhood in our own culture? Again, I think it is enlightening to examine this question from more than one perspective. On one hand, although the vast majority of modern Western women deliver their babies in far more sterile conditions, we also miss out on the benefits to be derived from the closeness and care of other women. For the most part, we give birth surrounded not by those who are necessarily closest and most caring but by paid professionals and coldly beeping machinery. Our "lying-in" period in the hospital is barely twenty-four hours, after which we are sent home to cope as best we can. We might have a mother who is both able and willing to help out, but even if we are so lucky, her stay generally lasts no more than a week or two. We might be granted maternity leave by our employer, but we generally spend that time in relative isolation. Our period of transition is spent not being coddled and cared for but in 24/7 on-the-job training. We are expected either to know instinctively how to mother or to learn the ropes by reading books as we muddle along. At the same time, we are undergoing another important--and not necessarily happy--transition with relation to our own sense of self. It''s hard, when we''re usually exhausted, still overweight, and often bedraggled, wearing a nursing bra or wiping formula from our clothing, to remember who we were just nine months before. In fact, many of us are undergoing our own personal reassessment and seeing ourselves as no longer seductive, if not quite as saints (although from time to time we might consi

Product Details

Short Title
PREGNANCY BLUES
Pages
310
Publisher
Delta
Language
English
ISBN-10
0385338678
ISBN-13
9780385338677
Media
Book
Format
Paperback
Year
2006
Publication Date
2006-09-30
Subtitle
What Every Woman Needs to Know About Depression During Pregnancy
Country of Publication
United States
Author
Shaila Misri
Audience
General/Trade