02 April 2013

HAWMC Day 2: Introducing PPMD

Introduce your condition(s) to other Health Activists. What are 5 things you want them to  know about your condition/your activism? Share links to 3-5 of your old posts (or posts from other Health Activists!) that you think will help the newly diagnosed.

I’m a Health Activist for Postpartum Mood and Anxiety Disorders. I personally have suffered from Postpartum Depression, Postpartum OCD, Postpartum Anxiety, and Antenatal Depression (not a PPMD because it occurs during pregnancy prior to giving birth) but I also feel that it’s important to talk about Postpartum Psychosis and Postpartum PTSD. As much work as remains to be done to better educate the public about Postpartum Depression, I think there’s even more to be done to raise awareness about other lesser-known PPMD. I say this based on the fact that not only do most every-day non-medical people I talk to not know about anything other than PPD, even medical personnel misdiagnose other PPMD as being PPD and are uneducated about anything other than PPD.

I think this ties in nicely with the part of today’s prompt that says to share 5 things I’d like others to know about PPMD. Please note that these are not necessarily listed in order of importance, as I think they’re all equally important.

  1. Different PPMD are not all the same thing and the terms can not and should not be used interchangeably. The biggest example I see of this is people saying someone has/had Postpartum Depression when they actually had Postpartum Psychosis. What far too many people don’t realize is that, although they both fall under the heading of PPMD, PPD and PPP are not the same thing.
  2. When someone says they are having thoughts of hurting themselves or the baby, it’s important to make sure that they’re truly experiencing suicidal/homicidal ideations typical of PPD or PPP; too often, what a new mom thinks is thoughts of hurting herself/her baby is actually intrusive thoughts, which are a distinctive symptom of Postpartum OCD. It’s important to distinguish between the types of thoughts and symptoms and make sure that the correct diagnosis is made because different PPMD may respond better to different methods of treatment.
  3. Postpartum Mood and Anxiety Disorders are not a cop-out. They’re not some pretend thing that people use to get out of trouble or to make excuses for not doing housework. PPMD are legitimate illnesses that suck  to an extent that is impossible to comprehend until you’ve experienced it. And even after experiencing PPMD, you still can’t expect to understand what everyone else with PPMD experiences, because everyone’s experiences are different.
  4. PPMD are not automatically something you can just pray away. It’s not as simple as singing more hymns, having more faith, saying the right prayers, repenting of sins, binding Satan and his demons, attending church faithfully, being exorcised, getting blessings that are worded the right way, or anything else faith related. Sometimes those things may help comfort an individual and help them feel relief from symptoms, but to assume that PPMD are tied to one’s faith (or lack thereof) is wrong, and hinting (or outright saying) that they must not be taking the right steps with regards to their faith can be more harmful than one might imagine.
  5. There is no one way that women with PPMD can be assumed to look. You can not assume that a woman with PPMD will be disheveled, be perpetually in tears, or appear to be in distress. Many women can and do hide the fact that they are suffering, and/or the extent of their suffering, not only from the world but from the loved ones they are the closest too. I speak from personal experience about that.

Five bullets is barely even a scratch on the surface. For more information about PPMD, go do some more reading. Read more of my blog entries, follow the links in this post, and check out the resources and blogs in the tabs at the top of this page. Happy HAWMC and enjoy your reading. :)



  1. Hi Esther - Agree with alot of what you said, but as a clinician who worked with the severely mentally ill, if there are thoughts of harming another or oneself, the thoughts need to be taken seriously. It is important to distinguish between true psychosis and intrusive thoughts, but as a clinician, I would always be on the look out for a possible action, and not dismiss it as "just" intrusive thoughts. Diagnosis of mental illness is an art, not a science, and often diagnoses co-occur or overlap or even move into a different diagnostic impression. You are doing good work!

  2. I certainly didn't mean to imply that intrusive thoughts shouldn't be scoffed at or dismissed, but they should be distinguished from suicidal/homicidal ideations. My personal experience leads me to the opinion that PPOCD and PPD may sometimes need different types of treatment and it's important to recognize the difference. Misdiagnosis can hurt the mother.

  3. This is also why I include a disclaimer that I'm not a medical professional and my blog should not be treated as advice from a medical professional. :D