Surviving the Storm Postpartum Depression Can Turn the Joy of a New Child into a Mother's Darkest Days. with Treatment and Support, Recovery Is Possible

By Stevens, Susan | Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), May 23, 2005 | Go to article overview

Surviving the Storm Postpartum Depression Can Turn the Joy of a New Child into a Mother's Darkest Days. with Treatment and Support, Recovery Is Possible


Stevens, Susan, Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)


Byline: Susan Stevens Daily Herald Health Writer

Pregnant with her first child, Paula Hutson dreamed of life as a perfect new mom.

She decorated a nursery, tucked dozens of tiny outfits into the drawers and imagined pushing the stroller on walks through her tree-lined West Dundee neighborhood.

When they learned it would be a girl, she and her husband, John, picked out a name: Emma Amanda, after Paula's great-grandmother. They decided Paula would quit her job to raise their daughter.

On Aug. 22, 2002, Paula Hutson gave birth to a beautiful blue- eyed infant and cried when the nurse placed Emma in her arms. It was one of the happiest times of her life.

Then everything fell apart.

Fueled by frustration, isolation and exhaustion, Hutson spiraled into a deep depression. She slept for hours every day, and every night she lashed out at her husband. Within two months, Hutson was sitting in the car in the garage, towels stuffed under the door to the kitchen, contemplating suicide while her baby slept in the house.

"Who needs a mother who is crying all the time, screaming all the time, fighting with her father all the time?" she said. "I thought this baby would be better off without me."

Hutson isn't the only new mom feeling that way. Postpartum depression affects an estimated one in 10 new moms, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

The good news is postpartum depression is curable. If identified early, moms at risk of postpartum depression can even begin treatment during pregnancy to forestall the worst symptoms.

Untreated, postpartum depression can last for months, wreaking havoc on families and potentially damaging the child. More debilitating than the "baby blues," postpartum depression is marked by severe sadness, despondency, irritability, fatigue and obsessive anxiety about the infant.

Cases where mothers harm themselves or their children are rare - roughly 1 in 25,000 - but researchers have documented other long- term effects, including developmental delays and behavior disorders.

Awareness of the disorder is increasing - boosted, in part, by stories like that of Brooke Shields, who shares her harrowing experience with postpartum depression in a book released this month.

In "Down Came the Rain," Shields describes her crippling depression following the birth of daughter Rowan, 2. Shields says she wants to "take the mute button off" a subject many mothers are afraid to talk about.

In one study, only 20 percent of depressed mothers reported their symptoms to a doctor. The idea of a depressed new mom conflicts with cultural expectations of motherhood.

"This is supposed to be a time where the mother is joyful, fulfilled, happy," said Leslie Lowell Stoutenburg, director of the pregnancy and postpartum mood and anxiety disorder program at Alexian Brothers Hospital Network in the Northwest suburbs. "Because it deals with mental health issues, there is a tremendous amount of shame."

At the same time, experts in treating depression in pregnant and breast-feeding women can be difficult to find. In surveys, obstetricians, family practitioners and pediatricians said they didn't know how to diagnose or treat the illness.

With few established treatment programs, they often had nothing to offer, anyway. It reminds Lowell Stoutenburg of the days before domestic violence was routinely reported.

"When we sent women to the ER who were injured, nobody asked the woman, 'How did you get that black eye?' We didn't have any place to refer them," she said. "Now we have a standard of care and referral system for domestic violence."

In Illinois, a series of sensational postpartum depression cases in 2001, including the Chicago suicides of Melanie Stokes and Jennifer Mudd Houghtaling, triggered a statewide alarm. Politicians, doctors and patient advocates rallied for better training and more widespread screening. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Surviving the Storm Postpartum Depression Can Turn the Joy of a New Child into a Mother's Darkest Days. with Treatment and Support, Recovery Is Possible
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.