I just had my 2nd baby boy. He’s beautiful, healthy, and seems to be always hungry. His big brother, who is a bit over 2 1/2 years old, is happy, so far, with the new addition to our family.
With this exciting event in my life, I thought it might be an opportune time to focus on an important topic for new Moms; online support groups for new Moms with postpartum depression (PPD). Most of the online networks that I have found are simple community discussion forums, therefore I will not go in depth on any of them.
Some statistics to get us started:
- According to the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), 10-15% of women experience PPD, often detected within 2-6 weeks after the birth of their child.
- CAMH goes on to state that PPD is the most common complication of child-bearing.
- 2/3 of women polled by the Mommy network MomsLikeMe.com (poll date: March 1 2010) believe that PPD is underdiagnosed.
Some online support groups for women suffering from PPD, as well as their friends and families:
- Our Sisters’ Place (OSP), based in Toronto, is “a program of the Mood Disorders Association of Ontario that provides support to women who are dealing with problems related both to mood and to hormonal changes, throughout the life cycle. This includes feelings like depression, anxiety, and psychosis, and events like puberty, pregnancy, post-pregnancy, menopause, and post menopause.” As part of their website, OSP hosts an online forum for discussions regarding PPD. As part of my research on the topic, I discovered that the Canadian Mental Health Association, Sudbury / Manitoulin branch links out to this online community. Perhaps other branches do as well, but this is the only one that came up as part of my search.
- The Postpartum Stress Center, based in Pennsylvania, “specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of prenatal and postpartum depression and anxiety disorders.” As part of their services, they also host an online community for support. Partners and family members are encouraged to participate in the online discussions as well.
- The Online PPD Support Group, based in the U.S., focuses solely on PPD. They also host online discussion forums for PPD patients. When you click on the “Peer support e-mail list”, you get sent to a Yahoo! Health Group which faciliates online support for PPD.
Since many Canadians use FaceBook, I found a few pages/groups that might be worth investigating. Considering the medium to high level of activity on the other forums that I have looked at, I was surprised to see that there are few fans / members of PPD FaceBook pages and groups. I am assuming that this might be due to a lack of promotion of the pages / groups, or perhaps that the women suffering from PPD are either not highly involved with FaceBook, or that they might be concerned about their privacy. If you have other insights, feel free to write a comment.
- The Post Natal Illness / Post Natal Depression group seems to be by far the PPD group on FaceBook with the most members, and they are active on the Wall as well.
- Postpartum Depression Recovery and Postpartum Depression for Dummies both appear to be pages managed by Dr Shoshana Bennett PhD. The content seems a bit repetitive from one page to the next, but there seems to be more fan activity on the PPD Recovery page.
- The Postpartum Depression Awareness is a group that requires membership approval. I’m still on the waiting list, so I have not been able to check out the content as of yet. Same for the Postpartum Support International group.
As I was double-checking my links, I noticed that the links to the two groups mentioned above go to the FaceBook sign in page. This might be because the groups are by approval only. If you are interested in these groups, you might want to just do a search for them when you are in FaceBook. Sorry for the inconvenience.
There are plenty of other online sources of help for mothers and family who need support for their PPD. Many of these sites are related to general health, or even parenting / Mom topics, yet they allow the opportunity to delve into PPD as a discussion.
- Two examples of general medical sites providing online support for PPD patients include the Mayo Clinic and HealthBoards. The Mayo Clinic’s website hosts a variety of resources to help women with PPD, including a Mayo Clinic blog on depression written by a psychiatrist, with some of the topics focusing on PPD. The HealthBoards Message Boards site which covers a wide range of topics, including PPD.
- Two examples of general parenting online communities hosting a forum focused on PPD include iVillage and What To Expect.
The Mayo Clinic offers advice on how to select the appropriate support group, both ‘live’ and online. They also offer some wise advice regarding the use of online health support groups;
- “Keep in mind some people prey on vulnerable individuals they meet online.”
- “Be aware of the possibility people may not be who they say they are, or may be trying to market a product or treatment.”
- “Be careful about revealing personal information, such as your full name, address or phone number, to strangers online.”
- “Make sure you don’t let extensive Internet use lead to isolation from your in-person social network.”
There are many websites providing information on PPD, and a variety of online support opportunities. If you or somebody you know suffers from PPD, seek professional help immediately from a healthcare professional. Online support groups might provide some comfort in knowing that you are not alone, as well as an opportunity to share your experiences and hear about others’ experiences with the disease and their traetment, but they are not meant to replace the expertise of your physician, pharmacist, or other trusted healthcare professionals.
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