In the News…

November 3rd, 2011

This is a link to article that was published in the Calgary Herald about me and my work with couples as they transition to parenthood.

Real Life Calgary Herald (Full Story)

 

Here is an interesting interview with Anne Sheffield about postpartum depression. Anne is a writer who has authored books about her family’s experience with depression. I appreciate the way Anne acknowledges that postpartum depression has an impact on all family members and all family relationships. She manages to emphasize this point while also punctuating the important facts that 1) the illness is an illness, NOT a weakness, and 2) it is a no-fault illness.

1. WHAT IS THE SINGLE MOST IMPROTANT THING THAT YOU THINK EXPECTANT COUPLES SHOULD KNOW ABOUT POSTPARTUM DEPRESSION?

Every expectant couple should know that postpartum depression (PPD) afflicts as many as 15% or more of new mothers. It is also important to learn to distinguish PPD from the “baby blues” experienced by most women after giving birth. The baby blues – mood swings from happiness to tears, sleeping and appetite problems,  a downturn in their ability to concentrate, and a suspicion that perhaps they aren’t up to the demands of motherhood – typically start a few days after giving birth and last for a week or so.  But a substantial number of new mothers, through no fault of their own, develop postpartum depression. PPD’s symptoms mimic those of depression unrelated to giving birth with a major exception:  mothers with PPD feel little or no connection to their infants and may even endure terrifying fantasies of harming them, inviting consuming guilt and self-hatred.  And so these agonized mothers often try to pretend that all is well, sharing neither symptoms nor fears with their husbands/partners or their doctors.

2. IN YOUR BOOK, DEPRESSION FALLOUT, YOU SPEAK TO THE IMPACT THAT DEPRESSION HAS ON MARITAL RELATIONSHIPS. HOW DO YOU BELIEVE DISTRESSED MARITAL RELATIONSHIPS CONTRIBUTE TO DEPRESSION?

A persistently unhappy relationship is one of several factors that can contribute to a partner’s depression, although not everyone involved in a distressed relationship develops depression. Although the exact cause of depression is still unknown, researchers agree that a combination of genetic and environmental factors make some people particularly vulnerable to it. A history of depression in the family and previous episodes of depression may signal a possible genetic vulnerability. Among the environmental factors that can act as “triggers” are: a stressful relationship, lack of a social support system, and prolonged low self-esteem.

3. THE GLOBE AND MAIL RECENTLY QUOTED DR. VALERIE WHIFEN STATING “ONE OF THE BEST PREDICTORS OF WHO WILL SUFFER POSTPARTUM DEPRESSION IS WHETHER A WOMAN’S RELATIONSHIP (WITH A SPOUSE/PARTNER) IS STRAINED BEFORE THE BIRTH.” WHAT ARE YOUR BEST RECOMMENDATIONS FOR PREVENTING POSTPARTUM DEPRESSION?

The best way to prevent the damage that postpartum depression inflicts on the mother, the father, and, most important of all, on the baby, is for the couple to be aware of the genetic and environmental risk factors, and also the symptoms of PPD and how they manifest themselves.  Equally important is telling the attending physician in advance about any possible depression risk factors, both genetic and environmental, so that he/she will be on the lookout for baby blues that last more than a few days, and may in fact be PPD. Depression is a no-fault physical illness that can be successfully treated – the earlier treatment begins, the less severe the depression will be and the less damage it will do, in the present and in the future, to both mother and baby, and of course to the relationship.  The terrible guilt that PPD mothers endure is heartbreaking. The single most important thing for PPD mothers to know is that prompt, effective treatment will allow them to love their babies and to be excellent mothers!

Love: What is it really?

April 26th, 2010

The word ‘love’ evokes different images, emotions, and hopes for each of us. Thus, there are as many ways to answer this question as there are individuals offering an answer. Just as the meaning we each ascribe to the word ‘love’ takes different shape depending on the context of the relationship in which it exists, our personal definitions of love evolve as we navigate the unique trials and successes of our lives. While love may very well be an intriguing concept to contemplate, I wonder if the ambiguity inherent to the word love leaves us at a loss for how to love better. While most everyone is aware of the startlingly high divorce rates, there has been less attention offered to the equally startlingly number of couples who feel underappreciated, lonely, and disconnected in their marriages after the joyous occasion of bringing a baby home. Thus, another important question regarding the concept of love pertains to the action of love—how can we be more loving? Perhaps there is merit in defining love so as to answer this question. The definition of love that resonates most strongly for me is that of the Chilean biologist, Humberto Maturana. While based in biology, his work has had a significant impact within the field of marriage and family therapy. In their book, The Tree of Knowledge, Maturana and Varela stated that love is simply, “the acceptance of the other person beside us in our daily living.” If we could each commit to this idea of truly accepting the other for even just one hour, how would we approach our interactions with our spouses differently? Perhaps we would be less judgmental. If we were to wholeheartedly embrace this definition of love the next time we find ourselves entering into conflict with our spouse, might we approach the conflict with more curiosity and less contempt? Within family life there lies an abundance of occasions to nourish our marriages and thereby teach our children about loving relationships. It is possible that love, is not the confusing and elusive concept that we often consider it to be. What is love, really? What if love is simply the act of accepting each other? How will you love today?

Postpartum mental illnesses are common and the impact that these illnesses have on family relationships is often neglected through the process of treatment. Read more.

Matrimony & Motherhood

March 10th, 2010

Shortly after bringing baby home many parents find that they are ill prepared for the ways in which becoming parents influences and ultimately changes their marriage. Here are some tips for navigating the momentous transition with greater ease. Read more.

The Facade…

March 10th, 2010

There is a great deal of societal and self-imposed pressure to be perfect and to live perfectly. Unfortunately modern day marriages do not seem to escape this immense pressure. Is the facade of perfectly-happily-married-with-kids worth it? Read more.

Inspired Marriage

February 8th, 2010


Need some marriage inspiration? This article about maintaining marriage motivation was written by Amy and published by Erica Ehm’s Yummy Mummy Club

Read Full Article

Friendship & Marriage

January 21st, 2010

Friendship is essential to a marriage that thrives during the transition to parenthood. Read more.

The Family Vision Statement

January 9th, 2010

Are you and your spouse struggling with a difficult decision? Need a solution? Here is an article by Amy about Family Vision Statements published by EverythingMom.