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I asked this question last night during #PPDChat. The responses were so moving that I wanted to open it up for input here as well.
All too often, Postpartum Mood & Anxiety Disorders are sensationalized by TV and movies. Terminology is confused. Mothers with “baby blues” end up in Psychotic rages and often there is no other way for a mother with a PMD to behave than to be Psychotic.
It’s not hard to do your homework, Hollywood. I understand that drama and thrill sells. I understand that you want to get your audience on the edge of their seat. But it’s also important to remember that a good portion of Americans GET THEIR HEALTH INFO from the programming for which YOU are responsible. Please. Be responsible. Be realistic for once. Show a mom who is in need of help and has support – show a mom who has not gone straight from the blues to psychosis. Psychosis is so very rare – why is the rate SO much higher in Hollywood films??
If I could tell Hollywood one thing about PMD’s it would be that not every Mom with a PMD wants to hurt her baby.
What would YOU tell Hollywood about PMD’s?
Susan Dowd-Stone shares the following at her blog:
Representative Jessica Farrar (D-TX) has introduced a new bill to the Texas Legislature which could limit jail time for mothers who commit infanticide while suffering from postpartum psychosis. While adoption of this historic bill would not replace or affect the appropriate use of the insanity defense for such crimes – a defense which can eliminate jail time while mandating sustained psychological treatment – it would limit jail time consideration during the penalty phase to two years for mothers deemed to have been under the influence of a pregnancy or lactation related psychosis within 12 months of giving birth at the time of the offense.
Defining the Differences:
Baby “blues”: fleeting periods of sadness and mood swings immediately after giving birth. Typically goes away within two weeks or less. Risk rate is 80% of all new mothers.
Postpartum Depression: Continued and deeper feelings of sadness and mood swings. Other symptoms may possibly include increased irritability, decreased appetite, inability to sleep, intrusive thoughts, increased anxiety. Risk rate is 10-15% of all new mothers, regardless of how many children she has.
Postpartum Psychosis: Onset is fast and can include delusions, hallucinations, inability to make any decisions, hearing voices. If suspected, the mother needs to be hospitalized immediately and not left alone until she is under professional care. This is rare, every 1 in 1000 women are at risk for developing this and a family history of bipolar or schizophrenia raise the risk even higher.