Tom Cruise gets a well-deserved smackdown in Brooke Shields' essay in today's New York Times. Brooke is grateful for the antidepressant medication and the therapy that allowed her to emerge from postpartum depression, and believes the "vitamins and exercise" Dr. Tom Cruise recommends would not have sufficed.
Hey, infertiles! Did you know Brooke tried to conceive for two years and did a couple rounds of IVF? I hadn't known. Brooke had expected to be so happy when her child was born: "But instead I felt completely overwhelmed. This baby was a stranger to me. I didn't know what to do with her. I didn't feel at all joyful," she writes.
Brooke offers a fantastic suggestion for broader management of postpartum depression: "If any good can come of Mr. Cruise's ridiculous rant, let's hope that it gives much-needed attention to a serious disease. Perhaps now is the time to call on doctors, particularly obstetricians and pediatricians, to screen for postpartum depression. After all, during the first three months after childbirth, you see a pediatrician at least three times. While pediatricians are trained to take care of children, it would make sense for them to talk with new mothers, ask questions and inform them of the symptoms and treatment should they show signs of postpartum depression."
I think that's an excellent idea. I cried at some of Ben's first pediatrician visits, and asking me how severe the stress was would have been a logical move for the pediatrician. She did tell me I didn't have to try nursing, pump milk, and formula-feed at nearly every feeding—I was really putting a huge burden on myself, and my stress level plummeted wonderfully after I stopped the lactation business. Before I quit nursing, I did ask my internist if it sounded like I had postpartum depression or if I was just upset for a number of very good reasons. She said either way, if I stopped nursing, she'd be happy to prescribe an antidepressant for me. I was lucky, and the misery lifted without medical help once I quit nursing. (Mind you, I'm not suggesting that anyone should quit nursing if she's having a rough time during the postpartum period. In my individual case, it was physically too much to ask of my body at that time.)