Understanding postpartum adjustment

I am writing in response to media coverage of the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force’s commentary on postpartum depression and its recommendation for more routinized assessment.

As a licensed psychologist whose practice has focused for over 20 years on treating women struggling with postpartum adjustment problems, I am happy this issue is being addressed publicly.

I do, however want to make the additional point that this population does not only include women who might feel the urge to hurt themselves or their babies, which is something frequently stated in media reports. That group is actually a minority and just the tip of the iceberg.

In reality, the majority of women who suffer from anxiety and/or depression do not necessarily feel like they are a danger to themselves or their child, they “just” feel miserable because they are experiencing some variation of being overwhelmed and can’t envision ever finding a new day-to-day equilibrium. They state fears that they are “going crazy” and/or have extreme guilt because they aren’t enjoying motherhood as much as they expected or have been told they would.

People who surround new mothers need to know that they should never dismiss or minimize any complaints, fears or disappointments that might be expressed.

Help is available and effective, particularly when intervention begins early. Postpartum adjustment reactions are not usually a sign of emerging severe psychopathology, but most often an extremely unpleasant, but normal, reaction to the most complicated, difficult developmental transition a woman will ever face in her life.

New mothers and the people who form their support system should seek assistance as soon as a woman voices any degree of distress. Just because a woman is not homicidal or suicidal does not mean that she is not suffering tremendously. This temporarily very bumpy ride can be smoothed out quickly with early intervention.

Camille J. Greenwald, Birmingham

College football’s money focus

Football athletes seem to get to pick the college they want to attend with no mention of education. I know nonathletes who have been turned down by major colleges even with a 4.0 grade-point average in high school.

I know it’s all about building the greatest college football team and it’s all about money. I just don’t think this system is fair.

Dan Brent, Macomb