Postpartum depression: more than just baby blues

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Local advocate urges moms to take care of themselves

The birth of a child is supposed to be the happiest, most joyful and fulfilling time of a parent’s life. The reality is that many new moms find themselves feeling down and out of sorts. Some dads experience it, too.

It’s a huge disservice to call this phenomenon ‘the baby blues.’ Postpartum depression is real and must not be dismissed because of its cute nickname says one local advocate, who urges all new parents to be mindful of themselves and to not suffer needlessly.

Tascheleia Marangoni started the Postpartum Depression Awareness Project, the Edmonton-based group that works to raise awareness of the issue and other postpartum mood disorders. Mostly, she admits, it is meant as a one-stop shop of resources for the people who need the help. She knows. She was there.

“It stems from personal experience and struggling with trying to find help and getting the wrong help,” she says. “I had postpartum depression with my first and third children.”

Late in her pregnancy with her third child, she noticed that she was getting the same symptoms as before.

“I was looking for help even toward the end of the pregnancy, and yeah, I did get fed up. It felt like a wild goose chase. I would come across something that led me to another resource, which led me to something else. It seemed like everything was a dead end or not the kind of help that I needed, or not specific enough. It was very frustrating.”

The Project then is a concerted effort to connect all of the dots so that people don’t have to go through what she did. While there is no physical office location, there is an extensive set of electronic resources available at its website at www.ppda.ca. Site visitors can access information and instructions about self-screening, support groups, nutrition, exercise and prevention.

Marangoni has also found some friends in high places. She convinced the mayors of St. Albert, Edmonton, Calgary, Stony Plain, Sherwood Park, Leduc and Fort Saskatchewan to proclaim January as Postpartum Depression Awareness Month.

She said that postpartum depression and other postpartum mood disorders affect approximately 15 per cent of new moms within the first year of giving birth. Part of the problem is that many people don’t report their struggles and end up suffering in silence.

Through this awareness campaign, she hopes to remove much of the negative stigma to let people know that it’s okay to ask for help. She sits on various committees as well and suggests that even Alberta Health Services is exploring the option of having all moms screened at their six-week check-ups after delivery. Even that isn’t a perfect answer.

“A lot of the time it doesn’t happen in that first six weeks. It could happen six months later or a year after. There isn’t an easy solution for this because it’s such a complex issue. Really, the solution is education and awareness.”

She added that postpartum depression doesn’t have any direct causes, but the mother’s general health (including mental health) and nutrition are compelling factors. Hormone levels during pregnancy also are thought to play a significant part.

To mark the end of Postpartum Depression Awareness Month, her group is hosting a special event at West Edmonton Mall today. From noon to 6 p.m. anyone can stop by the PPDA Mommy trade fair. Attendance is free and open to all. For more information about post-partum depression, the PPDA Month or today’s Mommy Event, contact Marangoni at 780-903-7418 or visit www.ppda.ca.

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Scott Hayes

Scott Hayes joined the St. Albert Gazette in 2008. Scott writes about the arts, entertainment, movies, culture, community groups, and charities. He also writes general news, features, columns and profiles on people.