Psychiatrist Dr. Carol Lynn Childers practices at Heartland Health Centers and Trilogy, Inc. Both facilities assist the Chicago community with overall physical health improvements and mental wellbeing. Previously, Dr. Carol Lynn Childers treated women with postpartum depression as a consulting psychiatrist for the Jennifer Mudd Houghtaling Postpartum Depression Foundation grant.
In March 2019, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved brexanolone, a new drug sold under the brand name Zulresso, for regular use among patients who suffer postpartum depression. Developed by Sage Therapeutics, it’s the first drug on the market that specifically targets mothers with this serious condition that affects one in seven women who have given birth. It is characterized by thoughts of suicide and feelings of guilt, and is much more intense and long-lasting than baby blues.
Although approved by the FDA, Zulresso will only be available to women at certified facilities through a restricted distribution program. This is due to a need for health care providers to monitor patients while they receive the drug intravenously for 60 continuous hours. There are also certain side effects of the drug, including passing out. To ensure women have the maximum amount of protection, the FDA is requiring the use of a boxed warning for the drug. This is the strongest warning required by the organization.
Researchers are hopeful that the approval of Zulresso will lead to the development of additional medications for women with postpartum depression. Currently, the condition is treated with antidepressants and psychotherapy. In some cases, antidepressants can take four to eight weeks to become effective. Zulresso takes effect within days and lasts for at least one month.
Consulting psychiatrist Carol Lynn Childers works for Trilogy Behavioral Healthcare, a Chicago-based nonprofit organization that provides services for individuals with serious mental illnesses. Dr. Carol Lynn Childers also serves as a consulting psychiatrist for the Jennifer Mudd Houghtaling Postpartum Depression Foundation.
The “baby blues” is a colloquial expression used to describe the common experience parents have following the elation of the birth of a child. As the lack of sleep and inability to regularly engage with friends, family, and hobbies begin to catch up with new parents, many begin experiencing exhaustion and mood swings. In 10 to 15 percent of new mothers, this can lead to a more significant condition called postpartum depression (PPD).
A number of indicators suggest PPD, but the most basic symptoms are hopelessness and chronic sadness. Tiredness and frustration are part of the newborn experience for parents, but depression is not.
A general timeline can help differentiate between baby blues and PPD. Baby blues typically lasts about two weeks, while PPD generally does not end without intervention and intensifies as the days go by.
In addition to sadness, guilt is a common symptom of PPD. Again, questioning the decision to become a parent is common for women, but extended crying spells resulting from excessive doubts about motherhood are likely an early symptom of PPD.
Other common symptoms of PPD include difficulty making decisions, irregular sleep patterns, and a lack of interest in things that used to bring joy. Parents who feel their issues extend beyond the baby blues should discuss their concerns with a physician.
An accomplished mental health professional, Dr. Carol Lynn Childers brings more than three decades of experience to her role as a consulting psychiatrist at Chicago-area organizations Trilogy Behavioral Healthcare and Healthcare Alternative Systems. Dr. Carol Lynn Childers works with patients suffering from a variety of serious illnesses, including those experiencing postpartum depression.
A condition affecting approximately one in every eight new mothers, postpartum depression can include symptoms such as mood swings, confused thinking, and other signs of depression. While psychotherapy is often the recommended treatment for postpartum depression, women can supplement therapy with other coping strategies:
Self Care: Between taking care of the new baby and social visits from friends and family, the weeks and months after giving birth is an incredibly busy time. Though it might feel like shirking your responsibilities, experts recommend finding some time for yourself during this period, whether that means going for a walk on your own or simply taking a long bath.
Exercise: Studies have indicated that exercise may be beneficial for women with postpartum depression. Though you may feel too exhausted for a strenuous workout, even light exercise such as yoga or pushing a stroller can have a positive effect.
Connect with Others: When you’re struggling with postpartum depression, social activities may seem overwhelming. However, research has consistently shown that connecting with other mothers to talk about the emotions you are experiencing, either through support groups or one-on-one chats, can make a big difference in your mental health.
Dr. Carol Lynn Childers concurrently serves Trilogy Behavioral Healthcare and Healthcare Alternative Systems as a consulting psychiatrist. In her practice, Dr. Carol Lynn Childers works with patients who undergo postpartum depression.
Studies conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reveal about 20 percent of women experience postpartum depression symptoms while pregnant or at any time after childbirth. This condition results from a combination of changes, not only physically and emotionally, but also chemically, socially, and psychologically. New mothers with postpartum depression may experience the following:
Abnormal sleeping habits. A new mom with postpartum depression may have trouble sleeping or may excessively spend all her time in bed. She may not be able to rest even when the baby is sleeping or at the time she is supposed to, no matter how tiring her day was. Or she may struggle to stay awake, preventing her from performing daily tasks.
Frequent mood changes. A new mom experiencing postpartum depression may experience an overwhelming feeling of guilt as a result of being worried, confused, scared, impatient, irritated, and angry. She may feel worthless, hopeless, and helpless, and may think of hurting herself or someone else.
With early diagnosis, postpartum depression can be dealt with through proper medication and counseling.