Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Postpartum Depression - Bring Awareness

I had the great pleasure of interviewing my dear friend Tanya Newbould.

Tanya is an actress and producer who lives in Los Angeles with her husband and daughter.  Tanya produced When The Bough Breaks, a feature length documentary about postpartum depression (PPD) and perinatal mood disorders.  

When Tanya experienced PPD with her daughter, she did not understand what was happening to her or even how to get help. 

Tanya teamed up with Director Jamielyn Lippman to begin the journey to better understand this illness that affects one in five new mothers. One of the woman they interviewed was Lindsay Gerszt.  Lindsay agreed to let the cameras document her treatments and condition in order to give the audience an in depth look at her path to recovery.

This film features stories from singer Carnie Wilson, celebrity chef Aarti Sequeria and Peggy Tanous from The Real Housewives of Orange County. When The Bough Breaks is Narrated and Executive Produced by Brooke Shields.

My goal with this blog and interview with Tanya is to create awareness for PPD and help women/families who are effected, find help and the resources to begin the healing.

Question: What made you decide to make this film?

Answer: When I was pregnant with my daughter, at four and a half months I noticed I was fighting (antenatal) depression which made no sense to me, so I began therapy.  After she was born, I began to feel lost, scared, alone but didn't understand what it was. A good friend of mine sat me down and told me "something's wrong with you".  My reply was "I'm tired, I had a baby".  She said "no, it's more than that".  I was still in therapy, but even the therapist didn't put the label of PPD on me. This shows me there is such a lack of understanding and training on this subject.  I continued on and at four and a half months I read Brooke Shields book "Down Came the Rain".  For the first time I realized I had Postpartum Depression and Postpartum Anxiety.  I then began to seek knowledge on this subject but really couldn't find anything. It was then that I knew there needed to be a documentary on this subject.  I had the honor of being interviewed for a documentary "Die Trying" about actors, directed by Jamielyn Lippman. I was very impressed with her and asked her to team up with me to direct and be a Producer of "When The Bough Breaks" a documentary about Postpartum Depression.

Question: You bring up so many good points, postpartum depressions is under-diagnosed and there is such a misconception about what it is and how many women-mothers suffer … sadly alone.  In my practice I often see Mom’s who suffer from postpartum, which is the term most often used.  There are actually several forms of illness that women may experience.  Can you share a little bit about the different types?  It important to note that women who have had a baby within the last twelve months are at risk for postpartum.   

Answer:  Baby Blues-  It's not uncommon for all mothers to experience Mood Swings or a form of baby blues which is the least severe form of PPD. Many women feel confused about struggling with sadness after such a joyous event of having a baby.  The best way to cope with this is to talk about these emotions, changes and challenges.

Postpartum Depression
  1. Feeling Overwhelmed.  Like "I can't do this and why did I become a mother".
  2. Guilt for not handling this better.  Fear of the baby feeling your guilt or sadness or lack of connection.  You may wonder if the baby is better off without you.
  3. You don't feel bonded to your baby.
  4. Confused and scared about being a new mom.
  5. Feeling irritated, angry or no patience.  Feelings of rage.
  6. Feelings of sadness to the depths of your soul.  You can't stop crying.
  7. Feelings of hopelessness, feeling like a failure or disconnected from everyone.
  8. Can't really eat or sleep, even when the baby sleeps.
  9. Feelings of wanting to run away or that the baby/family would be better off without you.
  10. You know something is wrong. That you're no longer yourself and this will never shift.
  11. Afraid if you reach out for help, you will be judged or your baby will be taken from you.

Postpartum Anxiety, Panic & Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
  1. You can't quiet your mind, settle down or relax.
  2. Feel like you have to be doing something all the time i.e. Cleaning bottles, cleaning clothes, cleaning the house, checking on the baby constantly.
  3. Worried about everything from sleep, eating, somethings wrong with the baby, somethings wrong with me, etc.
  4. Disturbing thoughts. Thoughts of physically harming the baby or yourself.
  5. Afraid to be alone with the baby because of the scary thoughts.  Afraid of objects that could harm the baby i.e. Scissors, knives, etc.
  6. Need to constantly recheck what you've already done. i.e. Check the baby, is the baby breathing, is the oven really off, etc.
  7. Panic attacks, nausea, headaches, no appetite, can't sleep, etc.
  8. Afraid of the nighttime coming and that you will never sleep.
  9. You know something is wrong with you and this is your new reality.
  10. Afraid to reach out for help for fear of being judged or having the baby taken from you.

Postpartum Psychosis
  1. You have more energy then you've ever had in your life. Nothing like you've ever experienced.  Or you are beyond exhausted and want to sleep but your mind won't let you.
  2. You feel like you have a NEW understanding of everything that no one else can relate to.
  3. You keep hearing/seeing things that no one else does.  You may have voices in your head that won't stop no matter what you do.
  4. You feel you can't trust anyone including people you've always trusted prior to this.  You may also feel like people are going to harm you or your baby.
  5. You may feel like you are being controlled by some outside source. This source is telling you to do harmful things to yourself or your baby.
  6. You may have the sensation that things are crawling on you.
  7. You are getting into conflicts with everyone around you with the feeling that no one understands you.
  8. You feel the best thing for everyone is to kill your baby or yourself.
  9. You feel like you will never get better. You may even feel the only way to get out of this or to protect the ones who love is to commit suicide or abandon your family.

It's very important that everyone be aware there is help for all of these situations! 

The most important thing to do is to talk about how your feeling either with a professional or ones that you love, so you are able to get the help you need. 

Thank you Michelle for helping families and women understand the difference between baby blues and different forms of postpartum along with what signs to look for, that will be so helpful.  Most women don't even realize there are different forms of postpartum. 

Question:  Yes, that is very true.  Most are not aware there are many forms of postpartum.  In my practice I often work with women who have postpartum or are anxious.  Those suffering from Postpartum Anxiety have difficulty being consistent in a sleep program and therefore they don't make progress or improvements in the baby's sleep, as the anxiety makes Mom question her every decision.  The anxiety can lead to a great deal of inconsistency and for sleep learning to be a success, consistency is a must.

I often talk with families about the warning signs of postpartum depression and encourage them to seek out a professional or a loved one, so that they can get help and support. Do you have other resources that we can direct these families to?

Answer: There are many resources available, a very good one is -  http://postpartum.net/  Here you can find groups, telephone support, and reliable services that are available for no charge.  At this site you can also learn more about the possible signs of the many different types of PPD.

Our documentary "When The Bough Breaks" is a documentary about Postpartum Depression covers and covers all aspects of the spectrum and stigma surrounding PPD which is estimated to affect one in five women worldwide.  You can see more about this film and the trailer at this link: http://www.whentheboughbreaksfilm.com/#/    If you would like to learn more about Tanya Newbould, you may visit her website.  http://www.tanyanewbould.com/about-me.html

Closing: Thank you very much Tanya for your time and for making this film.  I hope that more awareness is brought to the illness and more women, families and baby's are helped.

Additional Resources:
I had advanced training on postpartum from Dr. Shoshana S. Bennett.  "Dr. Shosh" has several books and also a private practice which specializes in postpartum depression and perinatal mood disorders.  All of these resources can be found on her website. http://drshosh.com/private-consultations/

  • Postpartum Depression for Dummies by Shoshana S. Bennett PhD and Mary Jo Codey
  • Beyond the Blues: Understanding and Treating Prenatal and Postpartum Depression & Anxiety by Shoshana S. Bennett PhD and Pec Indman EdD MFT