Dr Louann author of The Female Brain

Comment by Greg Bishop on May 11, 2012 at 12:51pm

Dads play a huge role re: PPD as six weeks after the baby arrives, we are the only ones around to recognize it. There is very strong interest in PPD at Daddy Boot Camp, and they see their role as another aspect of protecting their family.

Comment by angel macedon on May 11, 2012 at 3:02pm

Wow, what a great topic! I am an  older single father of three,  my youngest is graduating from UCLA next month) and I remember  quite well the postpartum depression my wife, at the time, suffered from after the birth of our first child. And you are right in that dads are the first line of defense in recognizing post postpartum when it is present. This raises so many issues that are critical to understand if the community at large is to play it's rightful role in providing support for the family during this difficult time.For me, because of many reasons, most of which i believe to be rooted in reverse gender bias, My job as support for my wife and children was made all the more difficult due to the isolation  my children and I faced from society because I was a stay at  home parent. Since my wife was extremely depressed, she was unable to provide the kind of care for the baby or for me and in some ways, for herself, that would have been considered normal. In fact, because postpartum depression wasn't even discussed in pregnancy classes, we were blind sided by the event. Knowing that something was terribly wrong with her that had no words and that no one else understood, closeted the entire  situation. And since part of  her depression was rooted in the fear she had, but did not understand and could not talk about, of her ability to be a good mom; she could never own her problem. All of the kind supportive behaviors from friends and community I'd seen my mother receive when she had kids and I had expected to receive, I never saw. As result, my children and I dealt with this problem in absolute silence and isolation.Since we know a certain percentage of women are going to get this disease, I am sure there are and have always been men like myself who have provided this kind of support for as long as women have been giving birth; unfortunately it is never a part of the historical narrative of childbirth and child rearing. The strength and commitment, empathy, sensitivity and caring of these men is never admired or given the credit it deserves for what it as meant to women. It is difficult to imagine any real change until women recognize the value and equality of men in the nursery.

Comment by Greg Bishop on May 12, 2012 at 10:50am

Angel, I added you to my long list of dads who do the job for their family, no matter what; the epitome of manhood. As you know, you have lots of company. 

Men becoming fathers just need to know what to do, and with PPD, it takes about 5-7 minutes to get a dad-to-be good to go. With 25 rookie dads-to-be and 5 veterans (former rookies who return with their babies to help orient the next group), I will refer them to page 40 in Crash Course for New Dads which covers baby blues and PPD, point out baby blues are normal, the list of PPD symptoms are dramatic and easily recognizable, it is a mom, baby, family threatening clinical depression associated with hormone fluctuations, a history of depression indicates an increased probability of PPD, happens typically around 6 weeks but can show earlier or later, at 6 weeks you will likely be the only one around to recognize it, your first thought may likely be WTF (at 6 weeks, life with a new baby is starting to get easier and then she starts losing it?), your second thought needs to be "OS, time to step up", and then move quickly to start getting it handled. Call in the resources, get the baby handled (grandma?), mom to the doc, and tap into suggested web resources because not all docs handle it well. I ask the vets what they learned, and one will suggest the rookies make a deal with their mates - any sign of PPD symptoms, dad makes a doc appointment for mom, no questions asked - what he heard as a rookie from another vet. In about half the workshops one will mention his experience with PPD. That's it.

Comment by LOUANN BRIZENDINE on May 28, 2012 at 1:43pm

Thank you both, Angel and Greg, for your astute comments and experiences--and it is --as GREG says--"because not all docs handle it well" that I AM ON A MISSION--called THE MOMS PROGRAM first at UCSF because that is where i can most quickly and deeply launch a new model of care between 3 departments--which usually NEVER happens--Pediatrics, OB-GYN and Psychiatry. I want it to become a model for all medical schools around the country as they TRAIN DOCS to recognize and treat this devastating ---but treatable--problem. ANY HELP or ADVICE you all can suggest I would be most grateful, since getting the 'seed' to germinate here in the next 4 months will make-or-break the program.

Comment by angel macedon on May 28, 2012 at 8:56pm
Hello Dr. so good to hear from you and quite flattering you would ask my advice:Here goes. I wouldn't be shocked if some men have, over time, developed an ability to step in and temporarily be both parents as many obviously had to do;an interesting thesis. Nonetheless,clearly because it may be necessary, men must be prepared to step their game up in a pinch. The obvious areas where you could affect immediate change inexpensively are Pediatrics and OBGYN. Lamaze class would be an entry point for basic education and reenforcment of that notion could be done during checkups; pre and postpregnancy. Doctor's and administrators could check off a box confirming the matter was covered. Men could even be given a simple test to demonstrate proficiency in recognizing PPD. ( maybe Greg has something) Well, there you go Dr., I hope it helps. anything I can do just ask.
Comment by Alan Keagy on July 1, 2012 at 11:34pm

After our last child was born 15 years ago (we have 5 children ages 25-15), my wife developed Post Partum Psychosis. About 5 years ago something again started to happen emotionally with my wife, and after her hysterectomy for fibroids, it appears that she has a similar affective illness again, only this time it is not post partum and much worse. She has since divorced me, and I am "public enemy number 1" and "the cause of all her misery". I still love her very much, though. Dr. Brizendine's book THE FEMALE BRAIN - CHAPTER 7 - THE MATURE FEMALE BRAIN is the BEST book and chapter I have read regarding a female's hormones in mid life years and I have read dozens of books trying to make sense of what has happened. My former wife has "changes all the rules." I believe she was not a good candidate for a hysterectomy regarding her past history with mental health. It’s amazing that doctors prescribe and cut, but don’t offer other types of help – that’s really all they know how to do. A hysterectomy is major surgery that catapults women into menopause and affects the chemicals in their bodies tremendously. I wish doctors really understood this and not be so quick to perform hysterectomies for fibroids. DR. BRIZENDINE, do you know if there are any specific scientific studies that caution doctors not to perform hysterectomies on women with a PREDISPOSITION FOR AFFECTIVE ILLNESS. I have only found indirect references in the scientific journals and I have reviewed hundreds of journal articles. There is very little out there on this. THIS WOULD MAKE A GREAT SUBJECT FOR A BOOK OR A DR. PHIL SEGMENT. Best Regards.

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