How much PND do you think is a rational reaction to awful circumstances?

(60 Posts)
DogsAreEasierThanChildren Sun 23-Jun-13 20:46:45

This is a thread about a thread really, but I didn't want to hijack a very supportive thread (or, worse, find I posted some thoughts and no-one replied!).

There's a thread in parenting (here) which started as a thread about how parenting affects mental health. I posted on there because I do struggle with parenting a small child, but increasingly I started to feel a fraud because (a) I only have one, albeit a demanding one and (b) a lot of the women on that thread aren't only struggling with parenting, they're suppressing enormous (and justified) rage and resentment against partners who simply aren't pulling their weight.

Clearly PND is a real illness and where it exists needs to be treated, but isn't it rational to feel pretty damn depressed if you're sleep deprived, isolated from adult company, spending 24 hours a day with a tiny infant who can't respond to you yet, and not getting support or understanding from your partner? I wondered, reading that thread, whether PND is overdiagnosed because it's easier and cheaper to dish out pills than to provide actual real support.

The other point that really struck me about reading that thread is how little you have to do to be regarded by the world as a perfectly adequate father. If most women opted out of the bits of parenting they don't like as easily as some men do, there'd be a whole generation of starving and neglected children and there would rightly be an outcry. But the men who behave like this get away with it. How? And how can we change that?

YoniTime Sun 23-Jun-13 21:43:53

Just a quick post to say yes, I agree OP and I'm glad you started this topic. It's something that affects so many.

badguider Sun 23-Jun-13 21:55:09

I believe that there are many people diagnosed with all sorts of "depression" who are not chemically or hormonally imbalanced but are instead dealing with all kinds of shit and stress and situations that would drive any rational person to the brink.
It can tip over into "victim blaming" and is dangerous IMO. In many cases the "sufferer" doesn't need "treated", the circumstances need to change.

LeStewpot Sun 23-Jun-13 21:56:32

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

DogsAreEasierThanChildren Sun 23-Jun-13 22:05:50

Good point that this isn't limited to PND, badguider. There was a very good review in yesterday's Guardian (can't link as on phone) of a book about mental illness as a response to circumstances and upbringing, which is probably quite relevant here.

badguider Sun 23-Jun-13 22:11:12

A friend of mine had medical professionals discuss pnd after her stillbirth.
I thought suggesting she was "ill" was very unhelpful - she was bereaved and feeling crap and working through that was totally normal! In fact, not feeling bad would have been more of an indication of mental illness!!

DogsAreEasierThanChildren Sun 23-Jun-13 22:13:47

That's appalling! Your poor friend.

SirChenjin Sun 23-Jun-13 22:17:23

These massive life events can trigger mental health problems though

johnnycomelurky Sun 23-Jun-13 22:19:05

There's a model of mental health/illness known as the stress-vulnerability model which would support your idea. Basically we all have a level of "vulnerability" to becoming mentally unwell which I'd determined by many things such as physiological factors which are in turn influenced both by our genes and other factors such as our early life experiences and the quality of our attachment relationships. We then go through life and encounter various stressors with which we must deal. Some people will have more skills and resources to deal with these stressors. Having a baby is certainly one of the most stressful life changes there is-emotionally and physically. So even with a supportive partner some women will hit their level of vulnerability. How ever having a baby with an unsupportive partner will seriously increase the level of stress which will push some other women up over their "vulnerability" level.

Hope that made sense. I just wanted to say that I think you're right but think we need to acknowledge that it won't be ALL about unsupportive dads.

HomageToCannelloni Sun 23-Jun-13 22:22:39

I've often thought as you do about a rational reaction to circumstances, and it makes me cross how often PND is bandied about, as it not only denies a perfectly natural response to what is usually an enormous change in circumstances for most women, but it also desensitises people to those who ARE suffering a very real depression and who, IMO need to be treated in a different manner.
If women were supported more effectively during the transition from 'working woman' to 'mother and full time cater' then it would be of benefit to everyone concerned.

colditz Sun 23-Jun-13 22:24:28

I agree with you, but to change that would mean changing the entire culture of parenting in this country... When my health visitor was bitching at me for having a very messy house with a five week old and an autistic three year old, I pointed out that I was not the adult in the house. "Yes" she replied. "And it's your job to make him help"

And I thought - fucking awesome. Another job to add to the long list of jobs I haven't done, or that I'm shit at.

SirChenjin Sun 23-Jun-13 22:26:49

That HV is shit - not all of them are that crap, to be fair.

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

colditz Sun 23-Jun-13 22:32:38

No.... Not all of them. A lot of them though. A lot of them are shit.

But to be fair, given a supportive partner who pulled his weigh, I may not have gone from the occasional bad day to full blown sobbing on a grubby unchanged bed for hours, day after day. The Hv didn't give me depression, but she did adequately demonstrate the attitude to families that aren't coping, which is to turn to the mother and say "Well? This is all your problem, you fix it!"

badguider I agree - I was told I had PND and offered anti-ds more than once after we lost two of our triplets. The HV and GP were not particularly interested in offering any other support. I did not, do not and (as yet...) never have had PND, and I consider myself very lucky as I've witnessed a good friend go through a severe form of both PND and post-natal psychosis and wouldn't wish them on anyone.

SirChenjin Sun 23-Jun-13 22:44:52

A lot - how many? Many of my colleagues are HV, and a lot of them are not shit. What she suggested to you was way out of range of what they would ever, ever have said - I think it's a shame that a (very) small minority tar the rest with the same brush sad

colditz Sun 23-Jun-13 23:04:35

Well, I don't know. My experience was only that. But if you were to post a thread asking who thought their health visitor was helpful, and another one asking who thought their health visitor was a hindrance, it should give you a vague idea of how hvs in this country are performing

SirChenjin Sun 23-Jun-13 23:06:39

Perhaps it's like the whole customer service thing - we remember the bad and forget the good? All I can say is that your HV was lucky she wasn't subject to disciplinary proceedings with that behaviour.

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

SirChenjin Sun 23-Jun-13 23:34:31

I actually had 3 nice HVs too! One in particular was fab and helped DD through her enuresis.

colditz Sun 23-Jun-13 23:40:28

Um, I don't know that she wasn't, actually.

I took ds2 to be weighed at the clinic and happened to for him to be weighed by the head of the service, who was lovely.

She was so nice, in fact, that I broke down, and asked her why my Hv kept turning up without an appointment, why she kept insisting on ds2 being stripped so she could check him for bruising, and that if there were child protection concerns, could someone please tell me because I would actually rather deal with a social worker.

She was rather shocked, especially when I said that I drafted a friend in to be with me when the Hv visited, and tht not only did the Hv start talking about my mental health problems, she was wrong about them and had asked me 'if the voices have got any worse'. (Honestly. This is absolutely true and exactly what she said and did. It sounds like a joke, or an exaggeration, but it's not). Anyway, head of hvs was all cats bum mouth, made me a horrid but well meaning cup of horribly sweet tea, and I never saw a Hv at my house again.

My kids weren't on any sort of protection list btw.

Jenny70 Sun 23-Jun-13 23:48:41

Certainly when terrible things happen, there is a natural depression which is a normal reaction to stressful, bad situations... you feel bad, because life IS bad for you at that time.

Then there is the hormonal PND which is depression when "life is good".

I guess some of the question is, do the AD help both scenarios, as a crutch whilst addressing the crap life issues and/or the hormonal imbalance?

I agree OP

I got a bit of this when I was on ML. 'Oh, is it PND?' <head tilt> No, it's just that I haven't slept more than 3 hours at a time in six months!

Then DH and I switched, I worked and he did the FT parenting. And amazingly, once I learned how to sleep again, everything was pretty great.

I think there is a history though of women's life struggles being pathologized, instead of alleviated through societal and political changes.

Animation Mon 24-Jun-13 10:15:54

I see it as an enormous adjustment for women. You're sleep deprived, pretty much on your own throughout, getting over the trauma of the birth, and sometimes surrounded by arseholes, and in my experience you also lose your aggressive instinct for some reason - and I could have done with a bit of that to help me through.

LeBFG Mon 24-Jun-13 10:26:59

I looked into PND and found the biggest correlate is poor support. So, whether that be crap husbands or lack of family, this is a BIG predisposing factor (as well as having previous form for mental health issues).

I'm not so sure the brain responds as rationally as you are making out. At the same time, I don't know if PND is overdiagnosed (I can believe it is - we live in a pill-popping culture after all). I DO know that where women genuinely suffer from PND, it is devastating - my mother had two bouts of PND the worst which lasted 18mo and finished when they did electroshock treatment.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now