by Ronald Rosenberg, Deborah Greening, and James Windell
Da Capo Press, 2003
Review by Christian Perring, Ph.D. on Dec 29th 2004
According to the authors, about 4
out of 5 new mothers suffer "the baby blues" but 10-17% experience
clinical postpartum depression. For some
women, the depression is completely unexpected, because they assumed that being
a mother would be a wonderful and enriching experience from the start. For others, they fear that they will become
depressed because other family or friends have become gone through it after
giving birth. Often it is very
difficult to find reliable information about the nature of the problem, so Conquering
Postpartum Depression is a welcome addition to the resources available for
people at risk for mental illness.
The "Authors' Note"
explains that Rosenberg, Greening and Windell have a great deal of expertise
about postpartum depression. The book
is written clearly using fairly simple language and is structured in a
straightforward way. Part one is on the
risk for depression, part two is on getting a comprehensive assessment, and
part three is on getting treatment. The
book is full of short descriptions of cases of women who have experienced
postpartum depression, which publishers seem to think makes it easier for readers
to understand the information in the book.
It explains the basic facts about the illness, dispelling common myths
and making clear the difference between the ordinary emotional highs and lows
that come with the experience of being a new mother and the more serious
difficulties of post-natal depression.
It further explains the relation between depression, anxiety and
obsessive compulsive disorder.
Reassuringly, it points out that postpartum psychosis is extremely rare
The authors provide plenty of tests
and checklists to assess whether you may be suffering from postpartum
depression, and they give many lists of factors that put one at greater risk
for suffering the disorder. They
divided up the risk factors into the biological, the psychological and the
social. There is nothing especially
surprising in these pages; for example, a family history of psychiatric
disorders puts one at greater risk for postpartum depression. It is a little startling that those who use
fertility treatments are more likely to get postpartum depression, but when you
think about it, it makes sense that it would bring more anxiety around
pregnancy and successful motherhood. It
is also a little alarming that shortened hospital stays, which are the norm for
births these days, place mothers at greater risk for depression.
Conquering Postpartum Depression
is quite reassuring about the success of treatments for the disorder. It recommends a biopsychosocial approach,
combining medication, psychotherapy, and group work along with improving one's
family and social network, and gives cheering information about the low risk
associated with passing on psychiatric medication through breast milk.
© 2004 Christian Perring. All rights reserved.
Christian Perring, Ph.D., is Academic Chair of
the Arts & Humanities Division and Chair of the Philosophy Department at
Dowling College, Long Island. He is also editor of Metapsychology Online
Review. His main research is on philosophical issues in medicine,
psychiatry and psychology.