A Mother's Healing
by Charity Vogel in The Buffalo News

February 4, 2011
 

The day Liana Preble hit bottom was the one on which she realized she had to protect her small son from an unexpected danger: Herself.

It happened when Preble had been a mother for nearly a year. Just 16 at the time, she had tried her best to raise her baby, but feelings of deep depression -- coupled with an urge to harm herself and her child -- kept returning.

Preble struggled valiantly, but felt defeated. She ended up giving her son to his birth father, so that he could be raised by someone besides her.

"You get to a place where hope does not exist," said Preble, an Orchard Park resident. "Now I can't even fathom who that person was. All I can do is speak the truth of that moment."

Preble, 32, found her path back to wholeness over a grueling decade's journey -- a time spent suffering, undergoing therapy, and finding her way to a spiritual reawakening.

Today she has turned that experience into an online community that has attracted 1 million views, and resulted in a local support group for struggling mothers in a Southtowns church. Called "Broken Moms Victorious," the website and group offer connection and consolation to women who are having a hard time coping with motherhood, for reasons encompassing postpartum depression, domestic violence, custody issues, and being in jail or in the military.

Preble is winning praise for her efforts -- which national experts said help destigmatize the difficulties that women can face after childbirth. "It's really important," said Dr. Kathleen Kendall-Tackett, a nationally known expert on postpartum depression who is clinical associate professor in Texas Tech University's School of Medicine. "One of the things depression does is, it really isolates you. One of the most valuable things is hearing another woman say, 'Yes, that has happened to me.'" Read more here...

For Preble, who moved to Western New York in 2009, the new turn her life -- which includes a husband and 3-year-old daughter -- has taken is unexpected, yet fulfilling.

"It's given me the goal to make sure all moms have a chance to be victorious," she said.

A teen mother

Preble was in high school in New England when she became pregnant. The father of her baby was a young man she had met in therapy; Preble had been receiving counseling because she had grown up in a "dysfunctional mess" of a household.

"I kept thinking, all I have to do is have this baby and everything will be OK," she said.

Her child was born in early 1995. When she looked at the 10-pound boy, Preble's heart melted. She decided to keep the child, instead of giving him up for adoption as she had planned.

But things went far from smoothly.

Soon after bringing her son home, Preble began experiencing off-putting symptoms. Her moods would swing from euphoria to depression. She began fighting with those around her, and isolating herself within the home she shared with her dad. She withdrew from the baby, finding herself unable to deal with his needs. She would put him in his swing and walk away.

"I tried to talk to my OB-GYN, and he said, 'Oh, it's just baby blues,'" recalled Preble. "I started to feel like I was just sick. I was a monster."

Preble sought relief by relocating to a Southern state to be near her mother, but it didn't work. She had thoughts of harming herself and the baby, as a way to end the pain.

By the time her son's first birthday rolled around, Preble decided her only possible course of action was to give the child to his birth father to raise.

"It's amazing that a mother can get to that point, where I'm protecting you from me," she said. "All I wanted to do in that moment was protect him."

Postpartum and beyond

Preble's experience is one that many women share, national experts said.

Postpartum depression affects 10 percent to 22 percent of women, according to Postpartum Support International, a group with a presence in every U.S. state and 36 countries. The number is much higher, around 50 percent, for women in low-income households, and even higher among those in the military or married to military personnel.

But, experts said, because postpartum depression presents itself in a range of ways -- not just in the form of sad feelings traditionally labeled "depression" -- many women don't know exactly what they are struggling with.

"Anxiety is the most common feature you're going to see first, not depression. So women are getting confused by this," said Birdie Gunyon Meyer, past president of Postpartum Support International and coordinator of the perinatal mood disorders program at Indiana University Health in Indianapolis. "You may not be crying. You might feel anxious, not be sleeping, or be confused and worried."

Of women who develop postpartum depression, the group's figures show, one of every 1,000 cases will rise to the level of psychosis. That's the most serious form of the condition, and can be marked by hallucinations and wishes to harm one's self or baby. Among these cases, according to the group, there is a 4 percent infanticide rate and 5 percent suicide rate.

Though psychosis does happen, Meyer said, there are many more women struggling with basic postpartum issues and going without help because they don't understand what's happening.

"We still have women who are going to the doctor and hearing, 'Oh no, that's a normal part of motherhood -- call me if it gets worse,'" said Meyer. "But just like you have risk factors for heart disease, you have risk factors for this."

Postpartum depression became part of the public lexicon over the past decade, experts said, due to the cases of three high-profile women: Marie Osmond, who went public about her depression in 2002; Brooke Shields, whose 2005 book "Down Came the Rain" told of her illness; and Andrea Yates, the Houston mother whose murder of her five children shocked the public.

Today, there is much new medical research being conducted into the causes of the depression, as well as useful treatment options, said Kendall-Tackett.

Alternative therapies, ranging from herbal supplements to new forms of talk therapy which focus on the mother's sources of social support, are being fruitfully explored, she said.

"One of the big changes is, we're talking a lot more openly about the number of treatment options that are available," Kendall-Tackett said.

Liana's recovery road

Preble's path to healing took 10 years. She lived in a few cities, got her GED, worked as a database engineer. She buried her pain, and pretended to the world that she had never had a child. "It was a prison of shame," she said.

She recovered her mental and emotional health through intensive therapy, talking through her difficulties. She built a "mental health action plan" to rely on. No medication was necessary to treat her depression, she said.

Preble even reconnected with her son, who will turn 16 this month. He still lives apart from her.

In 2006, she felt an inner voice telling her to use her experience to help other women.

The result was "Broken Moms Victorious," a website that gives women a place to meet others going through similar struggles during pregnancy and after childbirth.

On the site, Preble recounts her story, writes blog entries, and provides direction and links. The site has tracked 1 million views since she started it, Preble said, and the Broken Moms group has expanded to include officers, state organizers and a board of directors.

The organization also operates support-group sessions at the Wesleyan Church of Hamburg.

Preble said she chose the word "broken" for her project because it seemed to describe many of the women she knew -- and she wanted to be far-reaching, not limiting.

"A broken mom is one who is broken by circumstances, whatever they may be," she said. "There is no box."

Today, Preble is married and has a daughter, Gabriella. Her new life is one she wouldn't have predicted -- but that she is embracing.

"I've seen," she said, "that, with the proper support, you can be a victorious mom."
-----
Know the warning signs, where to find help for postpartum depression

Those who want to learn more about postpartum depression -- including its warning signs and treatment options -- have some places to turn for help.

Among them:
Postpartum Support International has an informative website with lots of material on identifying and understanding the condition -- including lists of symptoms, risk factors and warning signs. The site is at www.postpartum.net. Of particular help might be this page, which offers a detailed look at the facts about postpartum depression: www.postpartum.net/Get-the-Facts.aspx.

"Broken Moms Victorious" also offers an expansive website, with a Christian and spiritual message, at www.brokenmoms.org.

Information and resources related to postpartum depression can also be had from the phone line run by Postpartum Support International. The number is 1-(800) 944-4773. The line is open days during the week, and is not a crisis line.
cvogel@buffnews.com

November 4, 2010
Four Research Findings That Will Change What We Think About Perinatal Depression

Kathleen Kendall-Tackett, PhD, IBCLC

Research by health psychologists is changing what we know about perinatal depression. In this guest editorial, the author examines depression in pregnant and breastfeeding women in light of this recent research and describes four major findings that are influencing how we think about depression in new mothers: inflammation has an etiologic role in depression, a relationship exists between sleep disturbances and depression, breastfeeding protects maternal mental health, and all effective treatments for depression are anti-inflammatory interventions.
Journal of Perinatal Education, Volume 7, Number 4, 1 October 1998 - Volume 19, Number 4, 2010

October 25, 2010
FROM THE AMERICAN ACADEMY OF PEDIATRICS

Incorporating Recognition and Management of Perinatal and Postpartum Depression Into Pediatric Practice

Marian F. Earls, MD, and The Committee on Psychosocial Aspects of Child and Family Health

Every year, more than 400 000 infants are born to mothers who are depressed, which makes perinatal depression the most underdiagnosed obstetric complication in America. Postpartum depression leads to increased costs of medical care, inappropriate medical care, child abuse and neglect, discontinuation of breastfeeding, and family dysfunction and adversely affects early brain development. Pediatric practices, as medical homes, can establish a system to implement postpartum depression screening and to identify and use community resources for the treatment and referral of the depressed mother and support for the mother-child (dyad) relationship. This system would have a positive effect on the health and well-being of the infant and family. State chapters of the American Academy of Pediatrics, working with state Early Periodic Screening, Diagnosis, and Treatment (EPSDT) and maternal and child health programs, can increase awareness of the need for perinatal depression screening in the obstetric and pediatric periodicity of care schedules and ensure payment. Pediatricians must advocate for workforce development for professionals who care for very young children and for promotion of evidence-based interventions focused on healthy attachment and parent-child relationships.
Pediatrics, Nov 2010; 126: 1032 - 1039.

October, 2009
Postpartum Depression and Vitamin D

Pamela K Murphy,  Ph.D, MEDICAL UNIVERSITY OF SOUTH CAROLINA

Determining biological markers such as 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25[OH]D), a measurement of vitamin D, that could predispose women to postpartum depression is essential for the prevention and early identification of this mood disorder, and mounting evidence exists correlating other mood disorders with serum 25(OH)D. Therefore, the main objective of this dissertation is to explore whether a correlation exists between postpartum depression and serum 25(OH)D. Three manuscripts are included: the first, an integrative review of the research literature comparing mood disorders and vitamin D status in women; the second, a concept analysis using the Walker and Avant (2005) method to identify a conceptual definition of postpartum depression; and the third, an original research report on the results of the exploratory study conducted to determine whether a correlation exists between postpartum depression and vitamin D status.

The integrative review reveals four of six identified studies (each examining a different mood disorder) show a significant association between mood disorders and low vitamin D levels. The concept analysis reveals the following conceptual definition of postpartum depression; postpartum depression can be diagnosed if a woman experiences anxiety or panic attacks, unstable emotions, weight loss or gain, insomnia or hypersomnia, fatigue or loss of energy, feelings of worthlessness or inappropriate guilt, difficulty concentrating, or recurrent thoughts of death with or without plans for suicide up to one year postpartum (number and duration of symptoms remains unclear). The exploratory study finds weak, non-significant, negative correlations between elevated EPDS scores and chronic exposure to decreased levels of serum 25(OH)D; and specific EPDS statements, evaluating for depressed mood and alterations in sleep patterns, and decreased levels of serum 25(OH)D. In conclusion, this exploratory study demonstrates that vitamin D may be a weak force in the incidence of postpartum depression, particularly influencing mood and sleep patterns. The results of this study show a weak correlation between vitamin D and postpartum depression when using the EPDS, warranting future rigorous research in this area using larger sample sizes comparing vitamin D to confirmatory methods of diagnosing postpartum depression while controlling for confounding variables.

September 28, 2009
Joint APA-ACOG Algorithms for Treatment of Depression During Pregnancy

Deborah Cowley, MD, Obstetrics and Gynecology (2009 Sep; 114:703) and Journal Watch Psychiatry 

A groundbreaking collaboration provides useful advice on a clinically challenging problem.
Depression is common in women during the childbearing years, and psychiatrists and obstetricians alike can find it challenging to treat depression during pregnancy. A workgroup convened by the American Psychiatric Association and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, with input from a developmental pediatrician, has reviewed the literature and developed algorithms for treating women with depression who either are contemplating pregnancy or are already pregnant.

Many studies were confounded by elevated rates of substance use and poor prenatal care in depressed women. In some studies, depression itself was associated with higher rates of miscarriage, preterm birth, fetal growth problems, and developmental delay; however, the workgroup could not draw definitive conclusions about these possible links. Despite problems with confounding, the evidence suggested that antidepressants raised risks for miscarriage, low birth weight, transient neonatal symptoms, and persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn.

Highlights of the treatment algorithms are:
Adequate treatment of depression is essential, ideally beginning before conception. Women with severe recurrent major depression who stop pharmacotherapy are at high risk for relapse. Psychotherapy (preferably cognitive-behavioral therapy or interpersonal psychotherapy) is recommended for treatment of mild-to-moderate depression during pregnancy. Clinicians and patients should make decisions about pharmacotherapy collaboratively. Electroconvulsive therapy is an option in severe depression. Patients with severe depression, acute suicidality, psychosis, or bipolar disorder should receive psychiatric referrals.

Comment: The collaboration by these two specialty groups is groundbreaking. Despite the limitations of a mixed literature and lack of randomized controlled trials, the treatment algorithms for various clinical scenarios are helpful. The workgroup does not recommend specific antidepressants as being safer in pregnancy but discusses the possibly higher risk of cardiac malformations with paroxetine. However, a recent study suggests that this increased risk may be a class effect of SSRIs in general (BMJ 2009 Sep 26; 339:b3569). Also, "psychotherapy," which comprises a multitude of treatments, has been little studied; moreover, empirically validated therapies (CBT and interpersonal psychotherapy) are not always available. Clinicians should certainly recommend psychotherapy, preferably of a validated type, for mild-to-moderate depression. However, they must also continue to monitor depressive symptoms and reevaluate the need for medication throughout pregnancy, especially as depression during pregnancy raises the risk for postpartum depression.

May 4, 2010
California State Legislature Designates May as Perinatal Depression Awareness Month

ACR 105 – Designating May as “Perinatal Depression Awareness Month” in California
Passes Assembly and Senate.


Junior Leagues’ Support Across the State Seen As Critical on Key Women’s Health Issue.

Sacramento, Calif. – April 22, 2010 – The Junior Leagues of California’s State Public Affairs Committee (SPAC), working with Assembly Member Pedro Nava (D-Santa Barbara), sponsored Assembly Concurrent Resolution 105 (ACR 105) to designate each May as “Perinatal Depression Awareness Month” in California.

The bill received tremendous bi-partisan support and has passed both the Assembly and Senate.
“This legislation addresses a significant women’s health and public awareness problem,” said Assembly Member Nava. “It comes after 18 months of advocacy work by SPAC and individual Junior Leagues in California. By naming the month of May ‘Perinatal Depression Awareness’ Month, I hope to facilitate public discussion, increased awareness and access for women and their families to important healthcare services. The Junior Leagues’ support was critical, and I thank the leaders of SPAC for their time and energy in bringing this often misunderstood issue to a wider audience.”

National studies estimate 1 in 5 women suffer from postpartum depression and related disorders -- 80% of whom go undiagnosed and untreated because they are uninsured, underinsured, or lack access to comprehensive health care. There may be as many as 800,000 new cases in the United States each year.
“Because many women are not adequately informed, screened or treated for Perinatal Depression, they and their infants and families suffer needlessly through this devastating medical condition,” said SPAC Co-Chair and Junior League of Los Angeles Member Julie Elginer. “Early diagnosis and treatment is critical, but that cannot happen unless women, their families and friends and clinicians and other professionals know the signs and symptoms of Perinatal Depression. Many states, including New Jersey, Oregon, Washington and Iowa, have implemented robust educational campaigns and treatment programs. This is an important first step for California to increase awareness and reduce stigmas associated with this condition.”

As passed, ACR 105 will also request that the State Department of Health Care Services, the State Department of Mental Health and other private stakeholders work together to explore ways to improve women’s access to mental health care, to facilitate increasing awareness of and education about Perinatal Depression and to encourage the use of available prenatal screening tools.

To lead off Perinatal Depression Awareness Month, SPAC is introducing a Perinatal Depression awareness campaign entitled “Speak Up When You’re Down.” Additionally, SPAC leadership and stakeholders from across California will be participating in a key opinion leader roundtable hosted by the California Research Bureau on May 3rd. On the same day, SPAC will be participating in a press conference in Sacramento with Assembly Member Nava at 11:00 a.m. Representatives from a broad-based coalition that has supported ACR 105, including the American Congress of Obstetricians Gynecologists, Postpartum Support International, the offices of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, and the Los Angeles County Perinatal Mental Health Taskforce will also be in attendance.

On May 4th, SPAC will testify on Perinatal Depression at the California Women’s Legislative Caucus informational hearing that will be held in conjunction with the Assembly Health and Senate Health Committees.

Assembly Member Nava applauded SPAC’s tireless advocacy efforts saying “It has been an honor to work with the Junior Leagues of California. The League’s thoughtful and energetic advocacy on many important issues has been invaluable for both their communities and all the people of California.”

About SPAC:
SPAC is the State Public Affairs Committee of the Junior Leagues of California, a non-partisan, volunteer organization representing 11,000 members throughout the state. Collectively, the Junior Leagues of California contribute over $1.2 M and tens of thousands of volunteer hours into their local communities each year. SPAC supports legislation in four focus areas: education, health, family support and domestic violence prevention. SPAC works with nearly one hundred community programs that assist women, children and families throughout the state. SPAC represents the Junior Leagues of Bakersfield, Fresno, Long Beach, Los Angeles, Monterey County, Napa-Sonoma, Oakland East Bay, Orange County, Palo Alto/Mid-Peninsula, Pasadena, Riverside, Sacramento, San Diego, San Francisco, San Jose and Santa Barbara.
About the Association of Junior Leagues International Inc. (AJLI):
Founded in 1901 by New Yorker and social activism pioneer, Mary Harriman, the Junior Leagues are charitable nonprofit organizations of women, developed as civic leaders, creating demonstrable community impact.

Today, The Association of Junior Leagues International Inc. (AJLI) is comprised of more than 160,000 women in 293 Junior Leagues throughout Canada, Mexico, the United Kingdom and the United States. Together, they constitute one of the largest, most effective volunteer organizations in the world. For more information please visit www.ajli.org.

May 7, 2010
THIS MOTHER’S DAY, AN EXTRA GIFT FOR NEW MOTHERS

U.S. Senator Robert Menendez, Congressman Bobby L. Rush, and advocates announce celebration of postpartum depression legislation passage.

Watch the You-Tube Video of the whole press conference RIGHT HERE

Women’s health advocates joined Congressional champions in the fight against Postpartum Mood Disorders to celebrate the enactment of the Melanie Blocker Stokes MOTHERS Act, the initiative to combat perinatal mood disorders, that was signed into law as part of health insurance reform. The law was authored by U.S. Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Rep. Bobby Rush (D-IL), who help lead Thursday's event. The brand new law will establish a comprehensive federal commitment to combating postpartum depression through new research, education initiatives and voluntarily support service programs.

Speakers at the conference were:
Carol Blocker, the mother of the bill’s namesake. Her daughter Melanie committed suicide as a result of postpartum depression.
U.S. Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Senator sponsor of MOTHERS Act
Rep. Bobby Rush (D-IL), House sponsor of MOTHERS Act
Susan Dowd Stone, President's Advisory Council Chair, Postpartum Support International
Katherine Stone, Postpartum Progress website author
Sylvia Lasalandra, author, “A Daughter’s Touch”
Albert Strunk, MD, American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
Dr. Gwendolyn Keit,  American Psychological Association

Questions and Answers about the MOTHERS ACT (PDF)
Document prepared by the office of Sen. Robert Menendez

News conference in New Jersey on Monday, May 10

SENATOR ROBERT MENENDEZ (D-NJ), BROOKE SHIELDS, MARY JO CODEY, ADVOCATES IN THE FIGHT AGAINST POSTPARTUM DEPRESSION, CELEBRATE MAJOR VICTORY

A MOTHER’S DAY CELEBRATION FOR NEW MOTHERS AND THEIR FAMILIES
MOTHERS Act is part of Health Insurance Reform –the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act

LINK TO VIDEO OF BROOKE SHIELDS AT NEW JERSEY EVENT CELEBRATING MOTHERS ACT PASSAGE 

Ridgewood, New Jersey - U. S. Senator Robert Menendez and renowned advocates, actress Brooke Shields and former New Jersey First Lady Mary Jo Codey will stand with dozens of mothers and postpartum depression advocates to celebrate a major victory for women and their families that have been affected by postpartum depression. Postpartum depression is a devastating mood disorder which strikes many women during and after pregnancy that affects anywhere from 10 to 20 percent of new mothers.

WHAT: A Mother’s Day Celebration for the MOTHERS Act, postpartum legislation included in the Health Insurance Reform law

WHO: U.S. Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ)
Brooke Shields
Former New Jersey First Lady Mary Jo Codey
Chairperson President’s Advisory Council, Postpartum Support Int’l Susan Stone
Author of "A Daughter’s Touch” Sylvia Lasalandra

WHEN: Monday May 10, 2010
11:00 AM

WHERE: Ridgewood Women’s Club
215 West Ridgewood Avenue
Ridgewood, New Jersey, 07450

Parking is available at the West Side Presbyterian Church located across the street.
CONTACT: Menendez Press Office – (202) 224-2744 / (973) 645-3030

May 4, 2010
California State Legislature Designates May as Perinatal Depression Awareness Month

ACR 105 – Designating May as “Perinatal Depression Awareness Month” in California
Passes Assembly and Senate.

Junior Leagues’ Support Across the State Seen As Critical on Key Women’s Health Issue.


Sacramento, Calif. – April 22, 2010 – The Junior Leagues of California’s State Public Affairs Committee (SPAC), working with Assembly Member Pedro Nava (D-Santa Barbara), sponsored Assembly Concurrent Resolution 105 (ACR 105) to designate each May as “Perinatal Depression Awareness Month” in California.

The bill received tremendous bi-partisan support and has passed both the Assembly and Senate.
“This legislation addresses a significant women’s health and public awareness problem,” said Assembly Member Nava. “It comes after 18 months of advocacy work by SPAC and individual Junior Leagues in California. By naming the month of May ‘Perinatal Depression Awareness’ Month, I hope to facilitate public discussion, increased awareness and access for women and their families to important healthcare services. The Junior Leagues’ support was critical, and I thank the leaders of SPAC for their time and energy in bringing this often misunderstood issue to a wider audience.”

National studies estimate 1 in 5 women suffer from postpartum depression and related disorders -- 80% of whom go undiagnosed and untreated because they are uninsured, underinsured, or lack access to comprehensive health care. There may be as many as 800,000 new cases in the United States each year.
“Because many women are not adequately informed, screened or treated for Perinatal Depression, they and their infants and families suffer needlessly through this devastating medical condition,” said SPAC Co-Chair and Junior League of Los Angeles Member Julie Elginer. “Early diagnosis and treatment is critical, but that cannot happen unless women, their families and friends and clinicians and other professionals know the signs and symptoms of Perinatal Depression. Many states, including New Jersey, Oregon, Washington and Iowa, have implemented robust educational campaigns and treatment programs. This is an important first step for California to increase awareness and reduce stigmas associated with this condition.”

As passed, ACR 105 will also request that the State Department of Health Care Services, the State Department of Mental Health and other private stakeholders work together to explore ways to improve women’s access to mental health care, to facilitate increasing awareness of and education about Perinatal Depression and to encourage the use of available prenatal screening tools.

To lead off Perinatal Depression Awareness Month, SPAC is introducing a Perinatal Depression awareness campaign entitled “Speak Up When You’re Down.” Additionally, SPAC leadership and stakeholders from across California will be participating in a key opinion leader roundtable hosted by the California Research Bureau on May 3rd. On the same day, SPAC will be participating in a press conference in Sacramento with Assembly Member Nava at 11:00 a.m. Representatives from a broad-based coalition that has supported ACR 105, including the American Congress of Obstetricians Gynecologists, Postpartum Support International, the offices of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, and the Los Angeles County Perinatal Mental Health Taskforce will also be in attendance.

On May 4th, SPAC will testify on Perinatal Depression at the California Women’s Legislative Caucus informational hearing that will be held in conjunction with the Assembly Health and Senate Health Committees.

Assembly Member Nava applauded SPAC’s tireless advocacy efforts saying “It has been an honor to work with the Junior Leagues of California. The League’s thoughtful and energetic advocacy on many important issues has been invaluable for both their communities and all the people of California.”

About SPAC:
SPAC is the State Public Affairs Committee of the Junior Leagues of California, a non-partisan, volunteer organization representing 11,000 members throughout the state. Collectively, the Junior Leagues of California contribute over $1.2 M and tens of thousands of volunteer hours into their local communities each year. SPAC supports legislation in four focus areas: education, health, family support and domestic violence prevention. SPAC works with nearly one hundred community programs that assist women, children and families throughout the state. SPAC represents the Junior Leagues of Bakersfield, Fresno, Long Beach, Los Angeles, Monterey County, Napa-Sonoma, Oakland East Bay, Orange County, Palo Alto/Mid-Peninsula, Pasadena, Riverside, Sacramento, San Diego, San Francisco, San Jose and Santa Barbara.
About the Association of Junior Leagues International Inc. (AJLI):
Founded in 1901 by New Yorker and social activism pioneer, Mary Harriman, the Junior Leagues are charitable nonprofit organizations of women, developed as civic leaders, creating demonstrable community impact.

Today, The Association of Junior Leagues International Inc. (AJLI) is comprised of more than 160,000 women in 293 Junior Leagues throughout Canada, Mexico, the United Kingdom and the United States. Together, they constitute one of the largest, most effective volunteer organizations in the world. For more information please visit www.ajli.org.

March 22, 2010
MAJOR INITIATIVE TO COMBAT POSTPARTUM DEPRESSION TO BE SIGNED INTO LAW AS PART OF HEALTH INSURANCE REFORM 

CONTACTS: Menendez Press Office 202-224-4744

MOTHERS Act, sponsored by Sen. Menendez, will establish support, educational and research programs

WASHINGTON - Leaders in the fight against postpartum depression are celebrating today as The Melanie Blocker Stokes MOTHERS Act - legislation sponsored by U.S. Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) to combat postpartum depression - will become law as part of landmark health insurance reform that passed Congress last night. The legislation will establish a comprehensive federal commitment to combating postpartum depression through new research, education initiatives and voluntarily support service programs.

"Millions of mothers nationwide who are suffering or will suffer from postpartum depression are among the winners as a result of the new health insurance reform law," said Senator Menendez. "These women understand that postpartum depression is serious and disabling, and that the support structure to help prepare for and overcome it is has been woefully insufficient. We will attack postpartum depression on multiple fronts - with education, support, and research - so that new moms can feel supported and safe rather than scared and alone. I applaud the incredible group of advocates and inspirational women who helped this become a reality, I applaud Rep. Bobby Rush and Senator Richard Durbin for helping to champion this cause, and I am absolutely thrilled that this will be the law of the land."

"Finally, women all over the county are going to have access to the kinds of support services and information that women in New Jersey have had for a number of years," said Mary Jo Codey, former First Lady of New Jersey and leading advocate in the fight against postpartum depression. And we're going to get more research into these insidious illnesses. This is what I'd worked and hoped for over a long period of time. I almost can't believe it finally happened!"

"We are so indebted to Senator Menendez and everyone on Capitol Hill who recognized that we needed to do so much more to educate women about postpartum depression, to ensure that healthcare providers are able to identify those who suffer, and to provide sufficient resources and services for recovery in every corner of our country," said Katherine Stone, author of Postpartum Progress, the most widely-read blog on postpartum depression and other mental illnesses related to childbirth, and board member of Postpartum Support International "We needed their help to raise awareness at the federal level and make this a healthcare priority, and they've done just that. There is no doubt that this new legislation will help save the lives of many new mothers and ensure that their families have a healthier start."

"The American Psychological Association applauds the passage of the MOTHERS Act, which will improve the health and well being of approximately 800,000 women suffering from postpartum depression, included in health care reform legislation. The MOTHERS Act will expand research, outreach and education to mothers, families, and health care professionals on this critical issue," states Gwendolyn Puryear Keita, PhD, Executive Director, Public Interest Directorate, American Psychological Association.

Susan Dowd Stone, Chair President's Advisory Council, Postpartum Support International said, "Senator Robert Menendez, you are an unwavering champion of the women and infants you represent. Against all odds, you never once set aside this initiative. You are not just the Senator from New Jersey, you are the Senator of America's mothers."

Dr. Gerald F. Joseph, President of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, applauds Senator Menendez's leadership in ensuring inclusion of the MOTHERS Act in health care reform, saying "This will ensure that women and their health care providers have the best tools available to identify and treat all women that suffer from the very real and often severe results of postpartum depression."

"Adoption of the MOTHERS Act is a positive development for women and their families," said American Psychiatric Association President Alan F. Schatzberg, M.D. "Now the many women who are suffering from postpartum depression will have the support needed to get the help for this treatable condition."

"As a nurse dedicated to caring for expectant mothers and their newborns, I applaud the passage of the MOTHERS Act. This legislation will provide much needed support services and education to women suffering from postpartum depression," said Karen Peddicord, CEO of the Association of Women's Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses.

"Midwives are particularly sensitive to the need for support for mothers in the postpartum period and have long advocated for more intensive follow-up for all new mothers. We are so pleased by the passage of the MOTHERS Act which Senator Menendez has championed," stated Melissa Avery, CNM, PhD, FACNM, President of the American College of Nurse-Midwives.

"The March of Dimes deeply appreciates the Senator's leadership on this important issue," said Marina L. Weiss, Ph. D, senior vice president of public policy and government affairs for the March of Dimes. "Postpartum depression is a serious problem that takes a toll on women and infants as well as on their families. The Senator's proposal, approved by Congress last night, will ensure that necessary resources are made available to promote early diagnosis and treatment of post partum depression. The provision holds great promise for improving birth outcomes for women and children in every state across the nation."

"The passage of The Melanie Blocker Stokes MOTHERS ACT is a gift to countless women who have struggled and continue to struggle with postpartum depression," said Sylvia Lasalandra-Frodella, Legislative Director, PerinatalPro.com and author of A Daughter's Touch. "The Melanie Blocker Stokes MOTHERS ACT will help all women understand that they no longer have to suffer in shame or silence if she's confronted with feelings of depression following the birth of her newborn. Thank you Senator Robert Menendez, Congressman Bobby Rush, Senator Richard Codey and Mary Jo Codey for all of your dedication, commitment and tenacity to make this bill law!"

BACKGROUND

Postpartum depression is a serious and disabling condition affecting hundreds of thousands of new mothers each year. The new law will increase federal efforts to combat postpartum depression by:

  • Encouraging Health and Human Services (HHS) to coordinate and continue research to expand the understanding of the causes of, and find treatments for, postpartum conditions.
  • Encouraging a National Public Awareness Campaign, to be administered by HHS, to increase awareness and knowledge of postpartum depression and psychosis.
  • Requiring the Secretary of HHS to conduct a study on the benefits of screening for postpartum depression and postpartum psychosis.
  • Creating a grant program to public or nonprofit private entities to deliver or enhance outpatient, inpatient and home-based health and support services, including case management and comprehensive treatment services for individuals with or at risk for postpartum conditions. Activities may also include providing education about postpartum conditions to new mothers and their families, including symptoms, methods of coping with the illness, and treatment resources, in order to promote earlier diagnosis and treatment.

It is estimated that postpartum depression (PPD) affects from 10 to 20 percent of new mothers. In the United States, there may be as many as 800,000 new cases of postpartum conditions each year. The cause of PPD isn't known but changes in hormone levels, a difficult pregnancy or birth, and a family history of depression are considered possible factors.

# # #

January 26, 2010
Moms Lobby For Treatment for Postpartum Depression
Massachusetts
Source: CBS-3-Springfield | Mike Surko

For new or expecting mothers, postpartum depression is a potentially devastating, but treatable condition affecting many women each year. Tuesday in Northampton, local survivors of the condition shared their personal stories, and now ask for a bill to ensure treatment for all women. "10 to 15 percent of mothers experience postpartum depression.” said Liz Friedman, director of Postpartum Support Initiative for MotherWoman. “That is about 800-1200 women in this 3-county region who experience postpartum depression each year."  Read more

December 7, 2009
When New Fathers Get Depressed
Source: NewYork Times| Tara Parker-Pope

New mothers often are counseled to be on the lookout for postpartum depression — the mood swings and tears after childbirth that are often called the “baby blues.” But in the latest Science Times, Dr. Richard A. Friedman writes about a little-known phenomenon — sometimes fathers can suffer from postpartum depression too. Dr. Friedman shares the story of one particular patient:

A few weeks after the baby arrived, he had become uncharacteristically anxious, sad and withdrawn. He had trouble sleeping, even though his wife was the one up at night breast-feeding their new son. What scared her enough to bring him to my office was that he had become suicidal.

Up to 80 percent of women experience minor sadness — the so-called baby blues — after giving birth, and about 10 percent plummet into severe postpartum depression. But it turns out that men too can have postpartum depression, and its effects can be every bit as disruptive — not just on the father but on mother and child.

For more information read NY Times Article

December 7, 2009
FDA issues warning on use of Depakote during pregnancy
Source: PsychCentral | John M. Grohol, PsyD, editor 

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) last week notified health care professionals and patients about the increased risk of neural tube defects and other major birth defects, such as craniofacial defects and cardiovascular malformations, in babies exposed to valproate sodium and related products (valproic acid and divalproex sodium) during pregnancy.

Depakote and depakene are common brand names for valproic acid, which is commonly used to treat bipolar disorder in men and women.

Read more at PsychCentral
Read FDA warning at the FDA Website

August 21, 2009
American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) and the American Psychiatric Assocation (APA) issue joint report on treatment guidelines for depression during pregnancy.
Source: The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists

A joint report from APA and ACOG states that pregnant women with depression face complicated treatment decisions because of the risks associated with both untreated depression and the use of antidepressants. "Depression During Pregnancy: Treatment Recommendations,"attempts to help doctors and patients weigh the risks and benefits of various treatment options.

Based on an extensive review of existing research, ACOG and APA offer recommendations for the treatment of women with depression during pregnancy. The report, "The Management of Depression During Pregnancy: A Report from the American Psychiatric Association and The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists," is published in Obstetrics & Gynecology (September 2009) and General Hospital Psychiatry (September/October 2009).

Read more on the ACOG website

May 3, 2009
Maternal depression associated with infant sleep disturbance
Source: American Academy of Sleep Medicine 

Results indicate that infants born to mothers with depression had significant sleep disturbances compared to low-risk infants; the high-risk group had an hour longer nocturnal sleep latency, shorter sleep episodes and lower sleep efficiency than infants who were born to mothers without depression. Although average sleep time in a 24 hours did not differ by risk group at eight two or four weeks, nocturnal total sleep time was 97 minutes longer in the low-risk group at both recording periods. High-risk infants also had significantly more daytime sleep episodes of a shorter average duration.
For more information read Physorg

April 7, 2009
Slouching Toward Fatherhood 
Source: NEWSWEEK | Joel Schwartzberg  

I fell into a well of depression so deep I wasn’t even aware of it. It was only years later, after I spoke to a psychotherapist, that I learned I was experiencing male postpartum depression. It seems ridiculous on its face: men don’t do the hard work of carrying a pregnancy for nine months. We don’t have to bear the pains of labor. We never had an umbilical connection to our children. We just have to hang on tight. But giving my emotions a name, and an explanation, helped me feel less alone and better able to cut myself some slack. Before then, even calling it depression felt like an excuse for weak, pathetic behavior.
For more information read Newsweek

 


 

February 4, 2011
 

The day Liana Preble hit bottom was the one on which she realized she had to protect her small son from an unexpected danger: Herself.

It happened when Preble had been a mother for nearly a year. Just 16 at the time, she had tried her best to raise her baby, but feelings of deep depression -- coupled with an urge to harm herself and her child -- kept returning.

Preble struggled valiantly, but felt defeated. She ended up giving her son to his birth father, so that he could be raised by someone besides her.

"You get to a place where hope does not exist," said Preble, an Orchard Park resident. "Now I can't even fathom who that person was. All I can do is speak the truth of that moment."

Preble, 32, found her path back to wholeness over a grueling decade's journey -- a time spent suffering, undergoing therapy, and finding her way to a spiritual reawakening.

Today she has turned that experience into an online community that has attracted 1 million views, and resulted in a local support group for struggling mothers in a Southtowns church. Called "Broken Moms Victorious," the website and group offer connection and consolation to women who are having a hard time coping with motherhood, for reasons encompassing postpartum depression, domestic violence, custody issues, and being in jail or in the military.

Preble is winning praise for her efforts -- which national experts said help destigmatize the difficulties that women can face after childbirth. "It's really important," said Dr. Kathleen Kendall-Tackett, a nationally known expert on postpartum depression who is clinical associate professor in Texas Tech University's School of Medicine. "One of the things depression does is, it really isolates you. One of the most valuable things is hearing another woman say, 'Yes, that has happened to me.'" Read more here...

For Preble, who moved to Western New York in 2009, the new turn her life -- which includes a husband and 3-year-old daughter -- has taken is unexpected, yet fulfilling.

"It's given me the goal to make sure all moms have a chance to be victorious," she said.

A teen mother

Preble was in high school in New England when she became pregnant. The father of her baby was a young man she had met in therapy; Preble had been receiving counseling because she had grown up in a "dysfunctional mess" of a household.

"I kept thinking, all I have to do is have this baby and everything will be OK," she said.

Her child was born in early 1995. When she looked at the 10-pound boy, Preble's heart melted. She decided to keep the child, instead of giving him up for adoption as she had planned.

But things went far from smoothly.

Soon after bringing her son home, Preble began experiencing off-putting symptoms. Her moods would swing from euphoria to depression. She began fighting with those around her, and isolating herself within the home she shared with her dad. She withdrew from the baby, finding herself unable to deal with his needs. She would put him in his swing and walk away.

"I tried to talk to my OB-GYN, and he said, 'Oh, it's just baby blues,'" recalled Preble. "I started to feel like I was just sick. I was a monster."

Preble sought relief by relocating to a Southern state to be near her mother, but it didn't work. She had thoughts of harming herself and the baby, as a way to end the pain.

By the time her son's first birthday rolled around, Preble decided her only possible course of action was to give the child to his birth father to raise.

"It's amazing that a mother can get to that point, where I'm protecting you from me," she said. "All I wanted to do in that moment was protect him."

Postpartum and beyond

Preble's experience is one that many women share, national experts said.

Postpartum depression affects 10 percent to 22 percent of women, according to Postpartum Support International, a group with a presence in every U.S. state and 36 countries. The number is much higher, around 50 percent, for women in low-income households, and even higher among those in the military or married to military personnel.

But, experts said, because postpartum depression presents itself in a range of ways -- not just in the form of sad feelings traditionally labeled "depression" -- many women don't know exactly what they are struggling with.

"Anxiety is the most common feature you're going to see first, not depression. So women are getting confused by this," said Birdie Gunyon Meyer, past president of Postpartum Support International and coordinator of the perinatal mood disorders program at Indiana University Health in Indianapolis. "You may not be crying. You might feel anxious, not be sleeping, or be confused and worried."

Of women who develop postpartum depression, the group's figures show, one of every 1,000 cases will rise to the level of psychosis. That's the most serious form of the condition, and can be marked by hallucinations and wishes to harm one's self or baby. Among these cases, according to the group, there is a 4 percent infanticide rate and 5 percent suicide rate.

Though psychosis does happen, Meyer said, there are many more women struggling with basic postpartum issues and going without help because they don't understand what's happening.

"We still have women who are going to the doctor and hearing, 'Oh no, that's a normal part of motherhood -- call me if it gets worse,'" said Meyer. "But just like you have risk factors for heart disease, you have risk factors for this."

Postpartum depression became part of the public lexicon over the past decade, experts said, due to the cases of three high-profile women: Marie Osmond, who went public about her depression in 2002; Brooke Shields, whose 2005 book "Down Came the Rain" told of her illness; and Andrea Yates, the Houston mother whose murder of her five children shocked the public.

Today, there is much new medical research being conducted into the causes of the depression, as well as useful treatment options, said Kendall-Tackett.

Alternative therapies, ranging from herbal supplements to new forms of talk therapy which focus on the mother's sources of social support, are being fruitfully explored, she said.

"One of the big changes is, we're talking a lot more openly about the number of treatment options that are available," Kendall-Tackett said.

Liana's recovery road

Preble's path to healing took 10 years. She lived in a few cities, got her GED, worked as a database engineer. She buried her pain, and pretended to the world that she had never had a child. "It was a prison of shame," she said.

She recovered her mental and emotional health through intensive therapy, talking through her difficulties. She built a "mental health action plan" to rely on. No medication was necessary to treat her depression, she said.

Preble even reconnected with her son, who will turn 16 this month. He still lives apart from her.

In 2006, she felt an inner voice telling her to use her experience to help other women.

The result was "Broken Moms Victorious," a website that gives women a place to meet others going through similar struggles during pregnancy and after childbirth.

On the site, Preble recounts her story, writes blog entries, and provides direction and links. The site has tracked 1 million views since she started it, Preble said, and the Broken Moms group has expanded to include officers, state organizers and a board of directors.

The organization also operates support-group sessions at the Wesleyan Church of Hamburg.

Preble said she chose the word "broken" for her project because it seemed to describe many of the women she knew -- and she wanted to be far-reaching, not limiting.

"A broken mom is one who is broken by circumstances, whatever they may be," she said. "There is no box."

Today, Preble is married and has a daughter, Gabriella. Her new life is one she wouldn't have predicted -- but that she is embracing.

"I've seen," she said, "that, with the proper support, you can be a victorious mom."
-----
Know the warning signs, where to find help for postpartum depression

Those who want to learn more about postpartum depression -- including its warning signs and treatment options -- have some places to turn for help.

Among them:
Postpartum Support International has an informative website with lots of material on identifying and understanding the condition -- including lists of symptoms, risk factors and warning signs. The site is at www.postpartum.net. Of particular help might be this page, which offers a detailed look at the facts about postpartum depression: www.postpartum.net/Get-the-Facts.aspx.

"Broken Moms Victorious" also offers an expansive website, with a Christian and spiritual message, at www.brokenmoms.org.

Information and resources related to postpartum depression can also be had from the phone line run by Postpartum Support International. The number is 1-(800) 944-4773. The line is open days during the week, and is not a crisis line.
cvogel@buffnews.com

November 4, 2010
Four Research Findings That Will Change What We Think About Perinatal Depression

Kathleen Kendall-Tackett, PhD, IBCLC

Research by health psychologists is changing what we know about perinatal depression. In this guest editorial, the author examines depression in pregnant and breastfeeding women in light of this recent research and describes four major findings that are influencing how we think about depression in new mothers: inflammation has an etiologic role in depression, a relationship exists between sleep disturbances and depression, breastfeeding protects maternal mental health, and all effective treatments for depression are anti-inflammatory interventions.
Journal of Perinatal Education, Volume 7, Number 4, 1 October 1998 - Volume 19, Number 4, 2010

October 25, 2010
FROM THE AMERICAN ACADEMY OF PEDIATRICS

Incorporating Recognition and Management of Perinatal and Postpartum Depression Into Pediatric Practice

Marian F. Earls, MD, and The Committee on Psychosocial Aspects of Child and Family Health

Every year, more than 400 000 infants are born to mothers who are depressed, which makes perinatal depression the most underdiagnosed obstetric complication in America. Postpartum depression leads to increased costs of medical care, inappropriate medical care, child abuse and neglect, discontinuation of breastfeeding, and family dysfunction and adversely affects early brain development. Pediatric practices, as medical homes, can establish a system to implement postpartum depression screening and to identify and use community resources for the treatment and referral of the depressed mother and support for the mother-child (dyad) relationship. This system would have a positive effect on the health and well-being of the infant and family. State chapters of the American Academy of Pediatrics, working with state Early Periodic Screening, Diagnosis, and Treatment (EPSDT) and maternal and child health programs, can increase awareness of the need for perinatal depression screening in the obstetric and pediatric periodicity of care schedules and ensure payment. Pediatricians must advocate for workforce development for professionals who care for very young children and for promotion of evidence-based interventions focused on healthy attachment and parent-child relationships.
Pediatrics, Nov 2010; 126: 1032 - 1039.

October, 2009
Postpartum Depression and Vitamin D

Pamela K Murphy,  Ph.D, MEDICAL UNIVERSITY OF SOUTH CAROLINA

Determining biological markers such as 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25[OH]D), a measurement of vitamin D, that could predispose women to postpartum depression is essential for the prevention and early identification of this mood disorder, and mounting evidence exists correlating other mood disorders with serum 25(OH)D. Therefore, the main objective of this dissertation is to explore whether a correlation exists between postpartum depression and serum 25(OH)D. Three manuscripts are included: the first, an integrative review of the research literature comparing mood disorders and vitamin D status in women; the second, a concept analysis using the Walker and Avant (2005) method to identify a conceptual definition of postpartum depression; and the third, an original research report on the results of the exploratory study conducted to determine whether a correlation exists between postpartum depression and vitamin D status.

The integrative review reveals four of six identified studies (each examining a different mood disorder) show a significant association between mood disorders and low vitamin D levels. The concept analysis reveals the following conceptual definition of postpartum depression; postpartum depression can be diagnosed if a woman experiences anxiety or panic attacks, unstable emotions, weight loss or gain, insomnia or hypersomnia, fatigue or loss of energy, feelings of worthlessness or inappropriate guilt, difficulty concentrating, or recurrent thoughts of death with or without plans for suicide up to one year postpartum (number and duration of symptoms remains unclear). The exploratory study finds weak, non-significant, negative correlations between elevated EPDS scores and chronic exposure to decreased levels of serum 25(OH)D; and specific EPDS statements, evaluating for depressed mood and alterations in sleep patterns, and decreased levels of serum 25(OH)D. In conclusion, this exploratory study demonstrates that vitamin D may be a weak force in the incidence of postpartum depression, particularly influencing mood and sleep patterns. The results of this study show a weak correlation between vitamin D and postpartum depression when using the EPDS, warranting future rigorous research in this area using larger sample sizes comparing vitamin D to confirmatory methods of diagnosing postpartum depression while controlling for confounding variables.

September 28, 2009
Joint APA-ACOG Algorithms for Treatment of Depression During Pregnancy

Deborah Cowley, MD, Obstetrics and Gynecology (2009 Sep; 114:703) and Journal Watch Psychiatry 

A groundbreaking collaboration provides useful advice on a clinically challenging problem.
Depression is common in women during the childbearing years, and psychiatrists and obstetricians alike can find it challenging to treat depression during pregnancy. A workgroup convened by the American Psychiatric Association and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, with input from a developmental pediatrician, has reviewed the literature and developed algorithms for treating women with depression who either are contemplating pregnancy or are already pregnant.

Many studies were confounded by elevated rates of substance use and poor prenatal care in depressed women. In some studies, depression itself was associated with higher rates of miscarriage, preterm birth, fetal growth problems, and developmental delay; however, the workgroup could not draw definitive conclusions about these possible links. Despite problems with confounding, the evidence suggested that antidepressants raised risks for miscarriage, low birth weight, transient neonatal symptoms, and persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn.

Highlights of the treatment algorithms are:
Adequate treatment of depression is essential, ideally beginning before conception. Women with severe recurrent major depression who stop pharmacotherapy are at high risk for relapse. Psychotherapy (preferably cognitive-behavioral therapy or interpersonal psychotherapy) is recommended for treatment of mild-to-moderate depression during pregnancy. Clinicians and patients should make decisions about pharmacotherapy collaboratively. Electroconvulsive therapy is an option in severe depression. Patients with severe depression, acute suicidality, psychosis, or bipolar disorder should receive psychiatric referrals.

Comment: The collaboration by these two specialty groups is groundbreaking. Despite the limitations of a mixed literature and lack of randomized controlled trials, the treatment algorithms for various clinical scenarios are helpful. The workgroup does not recommend specific antidepressants as being safer in pregnancy but discusses the possibly higher risk of cardiac malformations with paroxetine. However, a recent study suggests that this increased risk may be a class effect of SSRIs in general (BMJ 2009 Sep 26; 339:b3569). Also, "psychotherapy," which comprises a multitude of treatments, has been little studied; moreover, empirically validated therapies (CBT and interpersonal psychotherapy) are not always available. Clinicians should certainly recommend psychotherapy, preferably of a validated type, for mild-to-moderate depression. However, they must also continue to monitor depressive symptoms and reevaluate the need for medication throughout pregnancy, especially as depression during pregnancy raises the risk for postpartum depression.

May 4, 2010
California State Legislature Designates May as Perinatal Depression Awareness Month

ACR 105 – Designating May as “Perinatal Depression Awareness Month” in California
Passes Assembly and Senate.


Junior Leagues’ Support Across the State Seen As Critical on Key Women’s Health Issue.

Sacramento, Calif. – April 22, 2010 – The Junior Leagues of California’s State Public Affairs Committee (SPAC), working with Assembly Member Pedro Nava (D-Santa Barbara), sponsored Assembly Concurrent Resolution 105 (ACR 105) to designate each May as “Perinatal Depression Awareness Month” in California.

The bill received tremendous bi-partisan support and has passed both the Assembly and Senate.
“This legislation addresses a significant women’s health and public awareness problem,” said Assembly Member Nava. “It comes after 18 months of advocacy work by SPAC and individual Junior Leagues in California. By naming the month of May ‘Perinatal Depression Awareness’ Month, I hope to facilitate public discussion, increased awareness and access for women and their families to important healthcare services. The Junior Leagues’ support was critical, and I thank the leaders of SPAC for their time and energy in bringing this often misunderstood issue to a wider audience.”

National studies estimate 1 in 5 women suffer from postpartum depression and related disorders -- 80% of whom go undiagnosed and untreated because they are uninsured, underinsured, or lack access to comprehensive health care. There may be as many as 800,000 new cases in the United States each year.
“Because many women are not adequately informed, screened or treated for Perinatal Depression, they and their infants and families suffer needlessly through this devastating medical condition,” said SPAC Co-Chair and Junior League of Los Angeles Member Julie Elginer. “Early diagnosis and treatment is critical, but that cannot happen unless women, their families and friends and clinicians and other professionals know the signs and symptoms of Perinatal Depression. Many states, including New Jersey, Oregon, Washington and Iowa, have implemented robust educational campaigns and treatment programs. This is an important first step for California to increase awareness and reduce stigmas associated with this condition.”

As passed, ACR 105 will also request that the State Department of Health Care Services, the State Department of Mental Health and other private stakeholders work together to explore ways to improve women’s access to mental health care, to facilitate increasing awareness of and education about Perinatal Depression and to encourage the use of available prenatal screening tools.

To lead off Perinatal Depression Awareness Month, SPAC is introducing a Perinatal Depression awareness campaign entitled “Speak Up When You’re Down.” Additionally, SPAC leadership and stakeholders from across California will be participating in a key opinion leader roundtable hosted by the California Research Bureau on May 3rd. On the same day, SPAC will be participating in a press conference in Sacramento with Assembly Member Nava at 11:00 a.m. Representatives from a broad-based coalition that has supported ACR 105, including the American Congress of Obstetricians Gynecologists, Postpartum Support International, the offices of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, and the Los Angeles County Perinatal Mental Health Taskforce will also be in attendance.

On May 4th, SPAC will testify on Perinatal Depression at the California Women’s Legislative Caucus informational hearing that will be held in conjunction with the Assembly Health and Senate Health Committees.

Assembly Member Nava applauded SPAC’s tireless advocacy efforts saying “It has been an honor to work with the Junior Leagues of California. The League’s thoughtful and energetic advocacy on many important issues has been invaluable for both their communities and all the people of California.”

About SPAC:
SPAC is the State Public Affairs Committee of the Junior Leagues of California, a non-partisan, volunteer organization representing 11,000 members throughout the state. Collectively, the Junior Leagues of California contribute over $1.2 M and tens of thousands of volunteer hours into their local communities each year. SPAC supports legislation in four focus areas: education, health, family support and domestic violence prevention. SPAC works with nearly one hundred community programs that assist women, children and families throughout the state. SPAC represents the Junior Leagues of Bakersfield, Fresno, Long Beach, Los Angeles, Monterey County, Napa-Sonoma, Oakland East Bay, Orange County, Palo Alto/Mid-Peninsula, Pasadena, Riverside, Sacramento, San Diego, San Francisco, San Jose and Santa Barbara.
About the Association of Junior Leagues International Inc. (AJLI):
Founded in 1901 by New Yorker and social activism pioneer, Mary Harriman, the Junior Leagues are charitable nonprofit organizations of women, developed as civic leaders, creating demonstrable community impact.

Today, The Association of Junior Leagues International Inc. (AJLI) is comprised of more than 160,000 women in 293 Junior Leagues throughout Canada, Mexico, the United Kingdom and the United States. Together, they constitute one of the largest, most effective volunteer organizations in the world. For more information please visit www.ajli.org.

May 7, 2010
THIS MOTHER’S DAY, AN EXTRA GIFT FOR NEW MOTHERS

U.S. Senator Robert Menendez, Congressman Bobby L. Rush, and advocates announce celebration of postpartum depression legislation passage.

Watch the You-Tube Video of the whole press conference RIGHT HERE

Women’s health advocates joined Congressional champions in the fight against Postpartum Mood Disorders to celebrate the enactment of the Melanie Blocker Stokes MOTHERS Act, the initiative to combat perinatal mood disorders, that was signed into law as part of health insurance reform. The law was authored by U.S. Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Rep. Bobby Rush (D-IL), who help lead Thursday's event. The brand new law will establish a comprehensive federal commitment to combating postpartum depression through new research, education initiatives and voluntarily support service programs.

Speakers at the conference were:
Carol Blocker, the mother of the bill’s namesake. Her daughter Melanie committed suicide as a result of postpartum depression.
U.S. Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Senator sponsor of MOTHERS Act
Rep. Bobby Rush (D-IL), House sponsor of MOTHERS Act
Susan Dowd Stone, President's Advisory Council Chair, Postpartum Support International
Katherine Stone, Postpartum Progress website author
Sylvia Lasalandra, author, “A Daughter’s Touch”
Albert Strunk, MD, American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
Dr. Gwendolyn Keit,  American Psychological Association

Questions and Answers about the MOTHERS ACT (PDF)
Document prepared by the office of Sen. Robert Menendez

News conference in New Jersey on Monday, May 10

SENATOR ROBERT MENENDEZ (D-NJ), BROOKE SHIELDS, MARY JO CODEY, ADVOCATES IN THE FIGHT AGAINST POSTPARTUM DEPRESSION, CELEBRATE MAJOR VICTORY

A MOTHER’S DAY CELEBRATION FOR NEW MOTHERS AND THEIR FAMILIES
MOTHERS Act is part of Health Insurance Reform –the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act

LINK TO VIDEO OF BROOKE SHIELDS AT NEW JERSEY EVENT CELEBRATING MOTHERS ACT PASSAGE 

Ridgewood, New Jersey - U. S. Senator Robert Menendez and renowned advocates, actress Brooke Shields and former New Jersey First Lady Mary Jo Codey will stand with dozens of mothers and postpartum depression advocates to celebrate a major victory for women and their families that have been affected by postpartum depression. Postpartum depression is a devastating mood disorder which strikes many women during and after pregnancy that affects anywhere from 10 to 20 percent of new mothers.

WHAT: A Mother’s Day Celebration for the MOTHERS Act, postpartum legislation included in the Health Insurance Reform law

WHO: U.S. Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ)
Brooke Shields
Former New Jersey First Lady Mary Jo Codey
Chairperson President’s Advisory Council, Postpartum Support Int’l Susan Stone
Author of "A Daughter’s Touch” Sylvia Lasalandra

WHEN: Monday May 10, 2010
11:00 AM

WHERE: Ridgewood Women’s Club
215 West Ridgewood Avenue
Ridgewood, New Jersey, 07450

Parking is available at the West Side Presbyterian Church located across the street.
CONTACT: Menendez Press Office – (202) 224-2744 / (973) 645-3030

May 4, 2010
California State Legislature Designates May as Perinatal Depression Awareness Month

ACR 105 – Designating May as “Perinatal Depression Awareness Month” in California
Passes Assembly and Senate.

Junior Leagues’ Support Across the State Seen As Critical on Key Women’s Health Issue.


Sacramento, Calif. – April 22, 2010 – The Junior Leagues of California’s State Public Affairs Committee (SPAC), working with Assembly Member Pedro Nava (D-Santa Barbara), sponsored Assembly Concurrent Resolution 105 (ACR 105) to designate each May as “Perinatal Depression Awareness Month” in California.

The bill received tremendous bi-partisan support and has passed both the Assembly and Senate.
“This legislation addresses a significant women’s health and public awareness problem,” said Assembly Member Nava. “It comes after 18 months of advocacy work by SPAC and individual Junior Leagues in California. By naming the month of May ‘Perinatal Depression Awareness’ Month, I hope to facilitate public discussion, increased awareness and access for women and their families to important healthcare services. The Junior Leagues’ support was critical, and I thank the leaders of SPAC for their time and energy in bringing this often misunderstood issue to a wider audience.”

National studies estimate 1 in 5 women suffer from postpartum depression and related disorders -- 80% of whom go undiagnosed and untreated because they are uninsured, underinsured, or lack access to comprehensive health care. There may be as many as 800,000 new cases in the United States each year.
“Because many women are not adequately informed, screened or treated for Perinatal Depression, they and their infants and families suffer needlessly through this devastating medical condition,” said SPAC Co-Chair and Junior League of Los Angeles Member Julie Elginer. “Early diagnosis and treatment is critical, but that cannot happen unless women, their families and friends and clinicians and other professionals know the signs and symptoms of Perinatal Depression. Many states, including New Jersey, Oregon, Washington and Iowa, have implemented robust educational campaigns and treatment programs. This is an important first step for California to increase awareness and reduce stigmas associated with this condition.”

As passed, ACR 105 will also request that the State Department of Health Care Services, the State Department of Mental Health and other private stakeholders work together to explore ways to improve women’s access to mental health care, to facilitate increasing awareness of and education about Perinatal Depression and to encourage the use of available prenatal screening tools.

To lead off Perinatal Depression Awareness Month, SPAC is introducing a Perinatal Depression awareness campaign entitled “Speak Up When You’re Down.” Additionally, SPAC leadership and stakeholders from across California will be participating in a key opinion leader roundtable hosted by the California Research Bureau on May 3rd. On the same day, SPAC will be participating in a press conference in Sacramento with Assembly Member Nava at 11:00 a.m. Representatives from a broad-based coalition that has supported ACR 105, including the American Congress of Obstetricians Gynecologists, Postpartum Support International, the offices of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, and the Los Angeles County Perinatal Mental Health Taskforce will also be in attendance.

On May 4th, SPAC will testify on Perinatal Depression at the California Women’s Legislative Caucus informational hearing that will be held in conjunction with the Assembly Health and Senate Health Committees.

Assembly Member Nava applauded SPAC’s tireless advocacy efforts saying “It has been an honor to work with the Junior Leagues of California. The League’s thoughtful and energetic advocacy on many important issues has been invaluable for both their communities and all the people of California.”

About SPAC:
SPAC is the State Public Affairs Committee of the Junior Leagues of California, a non-partisan, volunteer organization representing 11,000 members throughout the state. Collectively, the Junior Leagues of California contribute over $1.2 M and tens of thousands of volunteer hours into their local communities each year. SPAC supports legislation in four focus areas: education, health, family support and domestic violence prevention. SPAC works with nearly one hundred community programs that assist women, children and families throughout the state. SPAC represents the Junior Leagues of Bakersfield, Fresno, Long Beach, Los Angeles, Monterey County, Napa-Sonoma, Oakland East Bay, Orange County, Palo Alto/Mid-Peninsula, Pasadena, Riverside, Sacramento, San Diego, San Francisco, San Jose and Santa Barbara.
About the Association of Junior Leagues International Inc. (AJLI):
Founded in 1901 by New Yorker and social activism pioneer, Mary Harriman, the Junior Leagues are charitable nonprofit organizations of women, developed as civic leaders, creating demonstrable community impact.

Today, The Association of Junior Leagues International Inc. (AJLI) is comprised of more than 160,000 women in 293 Junior Leagues throughout Canada, Mexico, the United Kingdom and the United States. Together, they constitute one of the largest, most effective volunteer organizations in the world. For more information please visit www.ajli.org.

March 22, 2010
MAJOR INITIATIVE TO COMBAT POSTPARTUM DEPRESSION TO BE SIGNED INTO LAW AS PART OF HEALTH INSURANCE REFORM 

CONTACTS: Menendez Press Office 202-224-4744

MOTHERS Act, sponsored by Sen. Menendez, will establish support, educational and research programs

WASHINGTON - Leaders in the fight against postpartum depression are celebrating today as The Melanie Blocker Stokes MOTHERS Act - legislation sponsored by U.S. Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) to combat postpartum depression - will become law as part of landmark health insurance reform that passed Congress last night. The legislation will establish a comprehensive federal commitment to combating postpartum depression through new research, education initiatives and voluntarily support service programs.

"Millions of mothers nationwide who are suffering or will suffer from postpartum depression are among the winners as a result of the new health insurance reform law," said Senator Menendez. "These women understand that postpartum depression is serious and disabling, and that the support structure to help prepare for and overcome it is has been woefully insufficient. We will attack postpartum depression on multiple fronts - with education, support, and research - so that new moms can feel supported and safe rather than scared and alone. I applaud the incredible group of advocates and inspirational women who helped this become a reality, I applaud Rep. Bobby Rush and Senator Richard Durbin for helping to champion this cause, and I am absolutely thrilled that this will be the law of the land."

"Finally, women all over the county are going to have access to the kinds of support services and information that women in New Jersey have had for a number of years," said Mary Jo Codey, former First Lady of New Jersey and leading advocate in the fight against postpartum depression. And we're going to get more research into these insidious illnesses. This is what I'd worked and hoped for over a long period of time. I almost can't believe it finally happened!"

"We are so indebted to Senator Menendez and everyone on Capitol Hill who recognized that we needed to do so much more to educate women about postpartum depression, to ensure that healthcare providers are able to identify those who suffer, and to provide sufficient resources and services for recovery in every corner of our country," said Katherine Stone, author of Postpartum Progress, the most widely-read blog on postpartum depression and other mental illnesses related to childbirth, and board member of Postpartum Support International "We needed their help to raise awareness at the federal level and make this a healthcare priority, and they've done just that. There is no doubt that this new legislation will help save the lives of many new mothers and ensure that their families have a healthier start."

"The American Psychological Association applauds the passage of the MOTHERS Act, which will improve the health and well being of approximately 800,000 women suffering from postpartum depression, included in health care reform legislation. The MOTHERS Act will expand research, outreach and education to mothers, families, and health care professionals on this critical issue," states Gwendolyn Puryear Keita, PhD, Executive Director, Public Interest Directorate, American Psychological Association.

Susan Dowd Stone, Chair President's Advisory Council, Postpartum Support International said, "Senator Robert Menendez, you are an unwavering champion of the women and infants you represent. Against all odds, you never once set aside this initiative. You are not just the Senator from New Jersey, you are the Senator of America's mothers."

Dr. Gerald F. Joseph, President of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, applauds Senator Menendez's leadership in ensuring inclusion of the MOTHERS Act in health care reform, saying "This will ensure that women and their health care providers have the best tools available to identify and treat all women that suffer from the very real and often severe results of postpartum depression."

"Adoption of the MOTHERS Act is a positive development for women and their families," said American Psychiatric Association President Alan F. Schatzberg, M.D. "Now the many women who are suffering from postpartum depression will have the support needed to get the help for this treatable condition."

"As a nurse dedicated to caring for expectant mothers and their newborns, I applaud the passage of the MOTHERS Act. This legislation will provide much needed support services and education to women suffering from postpartum depression," said Karen Peddicord, CEO of the Association of Women's Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses.

"Midwives are particularly sensitive to the need for support for mothers in the postpartum period and have long advocated for more intensive follow-up for all new mothers. We are so pleased by the passage of the MOTHERS Act which Senator Menendez has championed," stated Melissa Avery, CNM, PhD, FACNM, President of the American College of Nurse-Midwives.

"The March of Dimes deeply appreciates the Senator's leadership on this important issue," said Marina L. Weiss, Ph. D, senior vice president of public policy and government affairs for the March of Dimes. "Postpartum depression is a serious problem that takes a toll on women and infants as well as on their families. The Senator's proposal, approved by Congress last night, will ensure that necessary resources are made available to promote early diagnosis and treatment of post partum depression. The provision holds great promise for improving birth outcomes for women and children in every state across the nation."

"The passage of The Melanie Blocker Stokes MOTHERS ACT is a gift to countless women who have struggled and continue to struggle with postpartum depression," said Sylvia Lasalandra-Frodella, Legislative Director, PerinatalPro.com and author of A Daughter's Touch. "The Melanie Blocker Stokes MOTHERS ACT will help all women understand that they no longer have to suffer in shame or silence if she's confronted with feelings of depression following the birth of her newborn. Thank you Senator Robert Menendez, Congressman Bobby Rush, Senator Richard Codey and Mary Jo Codey for all of your dedication, commitment and tenacity to make this bill law!"

BACKGROUND

Postpartum depression is a serious and disabling condition affecting hundreds of thousands of new mothers each year. The new law will increase federal efforts to combat postpartum depression by:

  • Encouraging Health and Human Services (HHS) to coordinate and continue research to expand the understanding of the causes of, and find treatments for, postpartum conditions.
  • Encouraging a National Public Awareness Campaign, to be administered by HHS, to increase awareness and knowledge of postpartum depression and psychosis.
  • Requiring the Secretary of HHS to conduct a study on the benefits of screening for postpartum depression and postpartum psychosis.
  • Creating a grant program to public or nonprofit private entities to deliver or enhance outpatient, inpatient and home-based health and support services, including case management and comprehensive treatment services for individuals with or at risk for postpartum conditions. Activities may also include providing education about postpartum conditions to new mothers and their families, including symptoms, methods of coping with the illness, and treatment resources, in order to promote earlier diagnosis and treatment.

It is estimated that postpartum depression (PPD) affects from 10 to 20 percent of new mothers. In the United States, there may be as many as 800,000 new cases of postpartum conditions each year. The cause of PPD isn't known but changes in hormone levels, a difficult pregnancy or birth, and a family history of depression are considered possible factors.

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January 26, 2010
Moms Lobby For Treatment for Postpartum Depression
Massachusetts
Source: CBS-3-Springfield | Mike Surko

For new or expecting mothers, postpartum depression is a potentially devastating, but treatable condition affecting many women each year. Tuesday in Northampton, local survivors of the condition shared their personal stories, and now ask for a bill to ensure treatment for all women. "10 to 15 percent of mothers experience postpartum depression.” said Liz Friedman, director of Postpartum Support Initiative for MotherWoman. “That is about 800-1200 women in this 3-county region who experience postpartum depression each year."  Read more

December 7, 2009
When New Fathers Get Depressed
Source: NewYork Times| Tara Parker-Pope

New mothers often are counseled to be on the lookout for postpartum depression — the mood swings and tears after childbirth that are often called the “baby blues.” But in the latest Science Times, Dr. Richard A. Friedman writes about a little-known phenomenon — sometimes fathers can suffer from postpartum depression too. Dr. Friedman shares the story of one particular patient:

A few weeks after the baby arrived, he had become uncharacteristically anxious, sad and withdrawn. He had trouble sleeping, even though his wife was the one up at night breast-feeding their new son. What scared her enough to bring him to my office was that he had become suicidal.

Up to 80 percent of women experience minor sadness — the so-called baby blues — after giving birth, and about 10 percent plummet into severe postpartum depression. But it turns out that men too can have postpartum depression, and its effects can be every bit as disruptive — not just on the father but on mother and child.

For more information read NY Times Article

December 7, 2009
FDA issues warning on use of Depakote during pregnancy
Source: PsychCentral | John M. Grohol, PsyD, editor 

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) last week notified health care professionals and patients about the increased risk of neural tube defects and other major birth defects, such as craniofacial defects and cardiovascular malformations, in babies exposed to valproate sodium and related products (valproic acid and divalproex sodium) during pregnancy.

Depakote and depakene are common brand names for valproic acid, which is commonly used to treat bipolar disorder in men and women.

Read more at PsychCentral
Read FDA warning at the FDA Website

August 21, 2009
American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) and the American Psychiatric Assocation (APA) issue joint report on treatment guidelines for depression during pregnancy.
Source: The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists

A joint report from APA and ACOG states that pregnant women with depression face complicated treatment decisions because of the risks associated with both untreated depression and the use of antidepressants. "Depression During Pregnancy: Treatment Recommendations,"attempts to help doctors and patients weigh the risks and benefits of various treatment options.

Based on an extensive review of existing research, ACOG and APA offer recommendations for the treatment of women with depression during pregnancy. The report, "The Management of Depression During Pregnancy: A Report from the American Psychiatric Association and The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists," is published in Obstetrics & Gynecology (September 2009) and General Hospital Psychiatry (September/October 2009).

Read more on the ACOG website

May 3, 2009
Maternal depression associated with infant sleep disturbance
Source: American Academy of Sleep Medicine 

Results indicate that infants born to mothers with depression had significant sleep disturbances compared to low-risk infants; the high-risk group had an hour longer nocturnal sleep latency, shorter sleep episodes and lower sleep efficiency than infants who were born to mothers without depression. Although average sleep time in a 24 hours did not differ by risk group at eight two or four weeks, nocturnal total sleep time was 97 minutes longer in the low-risk group at both recording periods. High-risk infants also had significantly more daytime sleep episodes of a shorter average duration.
For more information read Physorg

April 7, 2009
Slouching Toward Fatherhood 
Source: NEWSWEEK | Joel Schwartzberg  

I fell into a well of depression so deep I wasn’t even aware of it. It was only years later, after I spoke to a psychotherapist, that I learned I was experiencing male postpartum depression. It seems ridiculous on its face: men don’t do the hard work of carrying a pregnancy for nine months. We don’t have to bear the pains of labor. We never had an umbilical connection to our children. We just have to hang on tight. But giving my emotions a name, and an explanation, helped me feel less alone and better able to cut myself some slack. Before then, even calling it depression felt like an excuse for weak, pathetic behavior.
For more information read Newsweek

 


 

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