Causes of Depression: Part 3

(I think I missed posting last Monday. I apologize for that. I was so focused on getting ready for my surgery on Tuesday that I must have simply forgotten. This post was first published on Jan. 11, 2013, and it is the final post specifically about causes of depression.)

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Friday came awfully fast this week!  It was my first week back to work since I took my sabbatical starting just before Thanksgiving.  The days have gone  well, and very quickly.  I’d say I’m about 80% better right now, which is a lot of improvement.  Rest, medication, and straight thinking are all doing their work.

Today I want to mention several things that can trigger or contribute to depression.  Most of this information is already flooding the internet, so I’m not going to write anything you can find elsewhere.  I just want to bring these things to your attention, and if they are applicable to you or someone else in your life, then that’s all for the good.

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Postpartum Depression

Here is a reliable website that will give you lots of good information:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0004481/

Some important things to be aware of with postpartum depression:

1.  It can occur immediately after the birth or up to six months or more after the birth.  Some women think it started for them even before the baby had come.

2.  It’s not your fault.  Pregnancy does a complete upset of hormones and chemicals in a woman’s body, including her brain.  Somewhere, I don’t remember where now, I read that during pregnancy a woman’s brain shrinks by about 10% of its normal volume.  It goes back to normal after the birth; when that fails to happen, there is almost certainly going to be postpartum depression. Modern imaging techniques have shown this change clearly.  Maybe it’s the explanation for what women refer to as “pregnant brain.”

3.  There is a difference between postpartum depression and postpartum psychoses.  The latter is far more serious, and can result in bizarre behaviors that can harm the baby, the other children, and the mother herself.  Tragedy such as the Andrea Yeager case is rare, but it does happen.  If the mother had mental health diagnoses prior to pregnancy and childbirth, she and her husband and/or family need to make sure she follows up with appropriate medical treatment.

4.  What about the dangers of psychopharmacologic drugs for a baby who is nursing?  That absolutely needs to be considered.  If the depression is mild, I would suggest that the mother stay in talk therapy and try to develop a safety net of friends and family to give her the time she needs to recover without medication.  This, of course, is the ideal.

Not everyone, however, has the ideal situation.  Sometimes the risk to the baby of the mother taking antidepressants has to be measured against the danger of a deeply depressed new mom hurting her child.  That is something that needs to be discussed with a knowledgeable medical person.

It is vitally important that a new mother get the rest she needs as her body slowly returns to normal.  I can hear all you new moms out there laughing hysterically at that statement, especially if you have other young children.  I’ve been there.  I had four, all about two years apart.  I’m not speaking just from academic knowledge here, but from personal experience.  My mom and mother-in-law both lived long distances away; I had no sisters, aunts, or relatives to help us out. Thank God, we did have a wonderful church family, and precious friends that I could count on.  One of my friends had children about the same age as mine, and we used to trade babysitting 1/2 day each week, just to give each other time away from the demands of a very young family.

There are resources out there.  If you are truly cut off from such sources of help as I’m describing, then speak with your ob/gyn or family doctor and see what kinds of help are available in the community.  Most hospitals sponsor some type of program for new moms, especially single moms.

5. In my opinion, spiritual help is the best help during postpartum depression.  A close relationship with God will give any new mom a safe retreat and a source of encouragement.  Regular Bible-reading is vital.  I give my clients what I call my Scripture Doses.  It  is a collection of my favorite “hope and peace”  passages. I ask them to use the list any way that works best for them, but especially to try to memorize Phil. 4:7, and rely on it to find the peace that passes understanding. 

Postpartum depression does pass.  Things will get better.  The important thing is to know that it’s normal; you are not alone; there is help.

Other Disorders

Depression can be a big part of other disorders, including Bipolar Disorder, Anxiety Disorders, and even learning disorders such as ADD.  All of these disorders can involve mood swings which may lead a practitioner to suspect or even diagnose Bipolar, but mood swings do NOT always mean the person has Bipolar Disorder.  Mood swings are a big part of Attention Deficit Disorder, for example.  Also,  we are learning more clearly all the time that anxiety drives depression, so if someone is by nature a very anxious person who tends to have a lot of worries and fears, there will almost surely be depression at some point until or unless the person can learn to control the anxiety.  Yes, it can be done 🙂  It’s not easy, but it IS do-able.

If there is a question I have left unaddressed in these last three posts, please leave a message either on this blog or on my Facebook page Study God’s Word.  I would be more than happy to address any question you may have that I have not already mentioned. This is a huge topic; I have merely brushed the surface.  Again, there is already a wealth of material online, at your library, and in bookstores.  Just be careful that anything you read is balanced and biblically correct.  There is a lot of misinformation out there, too.

Depression affects the mind, the body, the emotions, and the soul.  It is serious, and nothing to ignore or take lightly.

Call Me Florence

The Daily Post Prompt:  Ballerina Fireman Astronaut Movie Star
When you were 10, what did you want to be when you grew up? What are you now? Are the two connected?

I don’t remember much about the age of ten. For sure, I wasn’t focused on a career. Growing up in a small town, I spent my days as a child playing outside with my sisters and brother or a friend. If anything, I thought about becoming a wife and mother.

The one thing I do remember wanting to be when I grew up was,  a non-smoker. Having grown up in a smoking household, I hated the smell of smoke and the stench that permeated every surface. At the young age of nine, I made the conscious decision to set a different and healthier path for myself. I would never smoke. It was the first step toward my career and realizing what I really wanted to be when I grew up – Florence Nightingale.

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images-8Florence Nightingale surfaced while I was holding court with three preteen boys in the basement of their home. Our parents, long time friends, were upstairs visiting. Why I came along for the visit, escapes me now.

Bored, I perched up on top of the washing machine as if I owned the world, and the boys gathered round. A precocious adolescent, developing ahead of most of my friends, I’d learned years ago my blonde hair and green eyes were an asset. A subtle flip of hair or intent gaze seemed to work magic.

All three boys stood around the washer, looking goo-goo eyed. Elbows propped on the edge and baby-fuzzed faces cupped in fidgety hands, they couldn’t take their eyes off me as I regaled them with stories of becoming a missionary nurse and traveling the world to help the sick and infirmed.

Of course, I could’ve been speaking jibberish for all they cared; adolescent boys will believe anything given the circumstances. I loved the attention using every bit of my wily teenage charm on those six sets of adoring eyes.

I’m guessing, based on the oldest boy’s level of attention, his mom spent a busy day laundering sheets the next day. Just saying, I could be pretty disarming for a young lady. And, when you’re fifteen, unmitigated adoration goes a long way feeding that demon.

I grew up in a small southern town. The middle child of three girls, and a younger brother. Two half sisters came later when Mom remarried. Maturing ahead of most of my classmates, I learned early on, when a boy in my class bumped into me, boobs created a lot of attention. He  pointed at my well-developed chest and yelled for the whole class to hear, “She’s got them things.” A smart girl, I caught on fast; discovering that  my assets, while unwelcome at first, had advantages.

He and his friends followed me around the playground for weeks until I had enough and reported them to the teacher. Attention, although nice  could also be tiresome. It would be on my terms or not at all.

Over the years, more than those three young boys, hanging onto the side of the washer and my every word, would accuse me of sending double-whammies with my green eyes, but I digress.

As usual, when you make broad declarations at the age of fifteen, they rarely come true; mine were no exception, at least, not in the strictest sense. I didn’t do the missionary thing, not the way you think, but in 1972, Florence Nightingale followed me to nursing school.

The satellite branch of the University of South Carolina, less than an hour’s drive from home, offered the closest associate degree nursing program.  With four younger kids left at home, there would be no dorm room or college campus experience for me; I’d have to commute. I didn’t mind. Contrary to my precocious adolescence, Florence and I weren’t the partying kind.

One of the first assignments I received in nursing school included keeping a personal journal to record why we chose nursing and our experiences during the first semester. Yadda, yadda, yadda. The assignment sounded juvenile to me, more like high school than college. But, to the professors, the journals were serious business, counting a third of our grade. If that’s what they wanted, that’s what they’d get, with a bit of a twist.

From day one, I signed my journal Florence Nightingale. Of course, identifying myself, on the inside cover, to get credit where credit was due. Every entry went under the name of Florence, and my professor’s reaction? Oh, my God, she loved it.  She and Florence had quite the rapport going the whole semester. Based on her graded comments to each entry, you would have thought she was communicating with the dead.

Now, don’t get me wrong. A good student, I studied. While others played hearts in the canteen area, I hit the books. By the end of my first semester of nursing school, I’d learned more than the funny language of medicine or how to stick the butt of an orange (nothing exciting). In fact, my “assets” paled in comparison to what the journal and Florence taught me. I’d discovered the art of bullshit and spin; the power of words.

No doubt, I had big plans. I’d be the next Florence Nightingale, work to help cure cancer, or the next disease threatening to wipe out humanity, and I swear to God, I think my professors believed it too, but then, that might just be me. First semester – I earned an A.

I’d love to hear your comments. Talk to me. Tell me your story. And as always, you can follow me on Facebook at SheilaMGood, PinterestBloglovinTwitter@sheilagood, and Contently.