Sunday, May 27, 2012

The Ghost in the House - Tracy Thompson

subtitle: Real mothers talk about maternal depression, raising children, and how they cope.

Over 30 years ago, I had a very bad case of postpartum depression.  The stories shared in this book recalled that time when I felt so helpless.  And, they put into perspective the worries I have had over the impact on my child.

The author describes maternal depression as "what happens when a mother's depression reaches out to ensnare her child".."it can be transmitted from mother to child via learned behavior, environment, genetics or any combination of the three" so it goes beyond just the postpartum experience.

The author, who's own mother was depressed and who had depression before having children and after, surveyed 393 women who had received a medical diagnosis of major depression and worked with a psych professor at Emory University to analyze and present their results.  The book is a powerful picture of the impact of depression on mothers and their children.

Some quotes:

"So unrealistic cultural expectations, the demands of an increasingly complex society, the inherent difficulty of the work, combined with lack of social recognition - they all add up to mother stress."

" turns out...the so-called maternal instinct is ...hardly foolproof".

The author noted that depressed mothers don't necessarily have depressed children but states "When we asked, "Do any of your children ever say things that sound similar to what depressed people often say, such as blaming themselvs for things that weren't really their fault, or being super critical of themselves, not giving themselves credit for good things they've done, or thinking pessimistically about the future?" 42% said "occasionally" and 15.7% said "yes, often".  Children do learn what they live.

The chapter on coping covered the different familiar treatments - medication, exercise, counseling - as well as escaping for a time, keeping busy and opening up to family and friends.

I would recommend this book to all mothers - to understand how difficult it can be for so many.

Published: 2007   Read: May 2012    Genre: Non-fiction link

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