As a mother who suffered from and was successfully treated for Perinatal Anxiety and Mood Disorder (or PAMD, formerly known as Postpartum Depression or PPD), I am writing to educate you about the disorder, following your offensive comments in the article at
It astonishes me that you're speaking as a medical and psychiatric expert when it is clear from your website that you have no medical qualifications whatsoever. It also astonishes me that you would go on public record saying that "most claims -- if not all -- of postpartum depression are a crock." Statements like that do not help anyone. By saying that Postpartum Depression is "a crock" you are endangering women and children - because why would a woman seek help and treatment for something that's "a crock?"
Your statements belittle the very real experiences of millions of women like myself - women who have been through the horror of PPD/PAMD - a horror which has nothing to do with losing one's body or one's freedom to children, and has EVERYTHING to do with very real hormones and chemicals in the body. In my own case, my husband and I tried for two years and desperately wanted a child. My PPD/PAMD had nothing to do with having an unloved, unwanted burden of a child - she was and remains loved and wanted! I remember saying, more than once, "I spent two years crying because I couldn't have a baby, and now I'm crying because I have one! It doesn't make any sense!" It didn't make any sense because I was sick. I was suffering from a chemical imbalance that caused me to feel anger, frustration, sadness, anxiety... It wasn't the baby that caused those feelings! I loved her and wanted her and wanted to take care of her more than anything!
The medical fact is that there are several possible physical causes for PPD/PAMD, including chemicals/hormones and sleep deprivation. The hormone that is most suspect is hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal hormone or HPA. Levels of HPA in postpartum women were found to be similar to the levels in women who had chronic, non-postpartum depression in a recent study. Women who do not breastfeed produce less oxytocin, which is known to cause feelings of love and well-being, and to produce a desire to care for the child in the nursing mother. Women who do not breastfeed have a higher incidence of PPD/PAMD. Additionally, in the 24 hours following childbirth, a woman's levels of estrogen, progesterone, and thyroid hormone drop dramatically, and some researchers believe that this drop leads to PPD/PAMD.
As with most things, it's probably a combination of several physical and environmental factors that causes PPD/PAMD. The fact that researchers do not know the exact cause(s) of PPD/PAMD does not mean that PPD/PAMD is "a crock." Science also can't explain exactly why gravity works, but that doesn't mean we're making it up and using it as an excuse for our failure to fly!
I do agree with you, however, that Shaquan Duley was probably not suffering from postpartum depression. More likely the poor woman suffered from postpartum psychosis, which is a different and much more severe form of the disorder.
Please refrain, in the future, from speaking to the media on topics which you are so obviously ignorant. You are doing real women and children a tremendous disservice when you minimize their experiences in this way. I would hate to think that there's some woman out there reading about Ms. Duley, who is also feeling the same horrible impulse to harm her children, and reading your words. Because if PPD isn't real, then there's no hope of treatment or cure, and that poor hypothetical woman now has an "expert" telling her that there's no reason to seek help.
The women suffering from PPD/PAMD, and those of us who have survived it, do not need any more blame and judgment. Believe me when I tell you that we blame and judge ourselves quite enough. We need compassion, help, and access to treatment. We do not need to be told that our disorder is "a crock."
I very much look forward to a public retraction of your appalling statements.
author of http://prettybabies.blogspot.com where this letter will be reprinted
UPDATE: She wrote back!
I am not ignorant of your argument for PPD and I am not saying in some rare case such a thing could exist based on chemical issues. Generally speaking, I don't buy the chemical imbalance theory for any depression; I believe people just don't want to deal with real life issues and the fact that sometimes life is simply depressing and damn difficult. It isn't about chemical imbalance but tough times and our own issues.Pat Brown
Investigative Criminal Profiler
To which I replied:
You are not qualified to buy or not buy any explanation for any disorder. You are neither a doctor nor a psychiatrist! You obviously, obviously have NO IDEA what you are talking about, and to tout yourself as an "expert" on PPD/PAMD in the national media is ignorant at best, dangerous at worst.
By the way, you've created yourself a real controversy. Check Twitter - #AOLhurtsmomswithPPD.
Enjoy the attention.
Updated to add - AOL has removed Brown's comments from the original article!
Updated again - this woman just doesn't know when to quit:
I stand by my comments even if AOL does not.Pat Brown
Investigative Criminal Profiler
My blood is BOILING!