May 8, 2012 – It was a lovely Tuesday at the Chart House Restaurant at Lincoln Harbor, Weehawken, NJ. Aside from the fact that this is a truly exceptional setting, I had many reasons to be excited about attending my second event with the Hudson Perinatal Consortium.
First and foremost, I was going to get to see my friend Mariann Moore, Executive Director of the Hudson Perinatal Consortium, whom I hadn’t seen since exactly a year ago, at the last event here at the Charter House. She is such a warm, caring, and truly lovely individual. I am so glad I met her at the 2010 Postpartum Support International (PSI) conference in Pittsburgh.
Second, Jeanne Watson Driscoll PhD, PMHCNS-BC and Shari I. Lusskin, MD, two very big names in the field of perinatal mood disorders, were speaking in depth about postpartum depression (PPD), postpartum PTSD, postpartum OCD, and postpartum psychosis. Unlike past sessions of theirs I attended at past PSI conferences, they had a couple hours or so a piece to go over their topics in depth. Both of them have traveled extensively to share their knowledge of perinatal mood disorders with people all over the world. I especially LOVE to listen to Dr. Driscoll, because she has a tendency to get all fired up throughout her presentation, and I appreciate her sarcastic humor and directness. She has her audience cracking up, and I love that about her presentations.
Third, it was a great opportunity to meet conference attendees whose professions entail working with mothers suffering from perinatal mood disorders. Among those I had the pleasure of meeting was Lisa Madden of MMC Moms.
Fourth, it was a rare opportunity to be away from the office and do something I really enjoy, which is being in the company of such inspiring individuals–all with the scenic backdrop of the Manhattan skyline.
Last, but certainly not least, I was paid the ultimate compliment with Jeanne Watson Driscoll buying a copy of MY book and asking me to sign it, when it was HER book that taught me so much about the biology behind women’s moods. It was her book “Women’s Moods” that helped me understand how and why reproductive hormones set women apart from men and represent all of the key vulnerable times in a woman’s life. It helped me understand that women are at the greatest risk of depression and anxiety when they are undergoing dramatic hormonal changes, and it’s during these times in which major biochemical changes occur. Throughout her talk, Dr. Driscoll emphasized the importance of healthcare practitioners to listen carefully to the different puzzle pieces of their patients and to put them together to come up with the appropriate diagnosis and treatment plan that is right for each individual, since each person’s experience is unique. There can only be an effective diagnosis if a new mom knows to see a doctor early and the doctor suggests a comprehensive examination that takes everything—physical, emotional, and psychological symptoms and external stressors and circumstances—into consideration.
Throughout my book, I reiterate the importance of bedside manner, evaluating the patient as a whole, and educating the patient about the biology behind their illness. If I had someone like Dr. Driscoll to help me when I was suffering from PPD, I would not have suffered as much as I did. But then again, if I hadn’t suffered as much as I did, I may not have been as motivated to share my own PPD experience with others through my book and blog! So, I guess you can say, things happened for a reason!
As I state in my book, for some strange reason, the impact of hormones on women’s mental health is, even now in the twenty-first century, largely ignored. There is simply no excuse for this. I told Dr. Driscoll that we seriously need to find a way to clone her so patients everywhere can get easy access to therapists like her and we need many more like her that are as passionate about and dedicated to educating people on perinatal mood disorders and realizing the necessity of treating/evaluating patients as a whole , just like we seriously need to clone Liz Friedman and Annette Cycon of MotherWoman for their training and support for mothers and their families!