Postpartum Depression: Raising Awareness

Postpartum Depression: Raising Awareness

You Don't Need Experience To Bring Awareness
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Women’s Wellness is a useful class. It teaches women's health, from depression and physical health, to the female reproductive system. I learned a lot. Near the beginning of the semester, we had to pick a book, and later, present a project on a specific subject of a topic we were to discuss. My partner had dropped the class, but my professor was gracious enough to let me do it on my own. With Free reign, I decided on the topic of Depression, specifically Postpartum Depression (PPD). I picked it because I had seen reports of mothers having Postpartum, and in a specific case, it was mentioned that a woman’s husband did not believe in her feelings, so she ignored it until it eventually escalated into the murder of her children. That woman didn’t have a chance.

But, this is definitely not a regular case.

In my presentation, I wanted to focus on preventative measures, maybe so PPD wouldn't escalate to this degree. My goal is to make it personal for people, so they can understand that Postpartum is real and any woman is susceptible. I’ll give a little background on Postpartum Depression. It is a medical depression, that is usually misdiagnosed. It is different from the common “baby blues” and Postpartum Adjustment Disorder. Postpartum Adjustment Disorder is characterized by deep disappointment, but isn’t debilitating and usually caused by stressors like C-sections (Kleiman); the mother can still go through the motions of the day. Baby blues is even less severe, but can be confused with PPD. It causes feelings of inadequacy, crying, frustration and sadness.

Typical Postpartum symptoms include: crying, sadness, concentration, losing interest in hobbies, insomnia, no energy, change in diet, and hopelessness.

The feelings involved shouldn’t be discredited

Being an English major, there was one way, in the allotted time, I felt I could convey my message fully. I found a poem written by a woman who had experienced PPD; I cut and pasted a few stanzas and used it as a hand out.

“The Hole” by Caitlyn Blake is a representation of what women can feel due to PPD.

I ended up selecting a book on Postpartum called, “This Isn’t What I Expected: Overcoming Postpartum Depression (second edition),” written by Valerie Raskin, M.D and Karen Kleiman, M.S.W. It gave a lot of information as a guide for those that have been diagnosed. I used the book for most of my information. It is interactive, comforting, and even has a section for spouses. I will say that the terms wife and husband are used, but there is a disclaimer so not to deter same sex couples, which I think is pretty neat.

The ultimate message is that women do not have to hide. Postpartum Depression is normal. There are support groups, books (like the one I used), and other professional help. If you are going through this, you aren’t crazy, and you don’t have to “be strong”. One out of five women go through postpartum depression (Kleiman). It can happen to anyone.

If you haven’t experienced PPD, then I hope this article has given you some insight and motivation to raise awareness and help others. If you have, I hope you know that there are options.

You aren't alone.

Cover Image Credit: Pintrest

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The Future For Those Living With HIV Has Never Looked As Hopeful As It Does In This Very Moment

The next few years appear to be promising ones full of purpose towards finally eradicating the infection from the human populace.

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The past few days have seen momentous progress in the worldwide fight against HIV with the 30th anniversary of World AIDS day on December 1st, 2018. Since the beginning of the AIDS epidemic in the 1970s, over 70 million people worldwide have been infected with the malady, culminating in approximately 35 million deaths. However, the tally for today's treatment of the disease shows a far more hopeful outcome, with 37 million living despite carrying HIV and 22 million in treatment.

Recent advances in medical science and technology have lead to the proliferation of easily accessible testing procedures, a plethora of treatments including drugs such as Abacavir (a nucleoside analog reverse-transcriptase inhibitor that is utilized in conjunction with other treatments to reduce the spread of HIV throughout the blood), and pre-exposure prophylaxis as preventative measures have become readily available to many vulnerable communities to help stem the tide of infection on an international scale.

The fight against HIV has been fraught with a host of preventative and treatment plans including clinical trials of antiretrovirals (ARVs) introduced in 1985. Since HIV works by utilizing a reverse transcriptase mechanism — in effect, turning its own viral RNA into DNA — in order to integrate itself into a host cell to mass produce its desired product and thereby infect neighboring cells until an entire tissue area and body system becomes affected, reverse transcriptase inhibitors such as antiretrovirals are increasingly essential in their ability to limit HIV's ability to latch onto a host body and bind properly, thereby reducing its potential to spread and develop into full-blown AIDS.

By 1995, these various ARVs were proclaimed as a major breakthrough in the fight against the AIDS epidemic and were celebrated as a deadly combination to the fatal illness at the 11th International AIDS Conference in Vancouver.

Soon after this development, the WHO announced a "three by five" initiative focused on providing high-quality HIV treatment to approximately three million patients in low- and middle-class regions by the year 2005. It was the largest global public health initiative ever launched at the time, and it increased the number of people who were able to receive access to affordable life-saving treatment by 15-fold within a mere three-year period.

Since then, the WHO has announced a "90-90-90" target plan intent on ensuring that by 2020, approximately 90% of all people living with HIV would know of their status, 90% of all people diagnosed with HIV would receive sustained antiretroviral therapy, and 90% of those who received this therapy would be able to achieve viral suppression and subsequent recession of their symptoms.

While the Global Public Health initiatives of the world, including the World Health Organization of the United Nations, have made astounding progress in their conflict against HIV/AIDS, the next few years appear to be promising ones full of purpose towards finally eradicating the infection from the human populace.

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My Christmas Wishes Are No Longer Toys & Candy But The Riddance Of Depression And Anxiety

The holidays seem closer to being a time of dread rather than that of "peace, joy, and love."

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Christmas has always been my favorite time of year. From the birth of Christ to sharing quality time with loved ones, it has always been something that has been both overhyped and overdone in my household. Not only Christmas but the entire Holiday season. Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, you name it, I am decorating for it. However, this year feels completely different.

Halloween came and went and I remember feeling so upset that I did not do more. I spent a lot of time by myself, did not go to one costume party, and let the time slip away from me.

Thanksgiving came and went all the same. I worked the week of and ended up sick in bed Thanksgiving day. Another holiday, gone.

However, I told myself that Christmas would not be the same. I was going to be happy and positive, truly in the Christmas spirit. I would ignore the voices in my head and the weight of not being able to get out of bed in the morning. I would fix it. I had to fix it. It was Christmas time and it was selfish of me to not be in the spirit.

With Christmas approaching quickly, I am beginning to realize a number of things. Christmas used to be so exciting because I was spending it with family, writing my long list to Santa, and drink hot cocoa while decorating the tree. I had no responsibilities. I was not the adult.

However, over the past couple of years, this has completely dwindled.

The home I grew up in is no longer a home I can go back to. My family has slowly grown apart, and the holidays seem closer to being a time of dread rather than that of "peace, joy, and love." In times where all you want to do is hide under your blankets from the world, how can you incorporate the Christmas spirit?

The worse my anxiety and depression get, the more I am called to remember the true meaning of Christmas: the birth of Jesus Christ. The fact that God the Father sent his son to rid of us our sins and hurts. A clean slate.

The word clean slate means many things to me. The fact that tomorrow is not going to be like today. I can start fresh and brand new.

A clean slate also means I am not what I have done. I can move forward and improve. Learn from my mistakes, and begin again. My failures from last year do not define my success of today. Ultimately, is Christmas not a time to remember to look at the good?

I am not saying that your anxiety and depression will disappear if you wish for it too. I am not saying that YOU yourself can fix this anxiety and depression. It is going to be a battle, one I have been going through for months now, but Christmas reminds me why I keep pushing through it: because God does not give me anything more than I can handle. It will get better.

I pray if you're struggling with the mental health that God rids it from you. I pray that you can see the joy around you not only during this Holiday season but every day. It is a battle, but we will get through it.

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