Friday, July 18, 2014

Religion and postpartum depression

Kaleigh Velasquez is an undergraduate student here at Trinity Christian College. 
The article that I reviewed deals with postpartum depression and how religion may play a role in overcoming this disorder (Zittel-Palamara, Cercone & Rockmaker, 2009). Postpartum depression is a form of depression that happens after a woman gives birth. The symptoms are similar to major depression and are characterized by anxiety, having a short temper, feeling hopeless or guilty, a decrease in appetite, inability to focus, decreased interest in the baby, and having trouble sleeping.
Postpartum depression is more likely in disadvantaged communities than in advantaged communities and also higher within African American and Latino communities rather than Caucasians. This type of depression affects between 15% to 25% of woman annually, but there are also reports of 34% to 55% of woman suffering (Zittel-Palamara, Cercone & Rockmaker, 2009).
When it comes to treatments, the most common is medication and specifically antidepressants. Even though antidepressants may work for a certain client, many clients claim they take them without knowing their other treatment options. Other medical treatments include alternative medicines and hormone treatments. A medical perspective also uses hospitalization, as well as day and visitation programs. Another form of treatment is psychological based interventions. These include individual and group counseling.
There are different types of treatment that combat postpartum depression, some of them with the use of religion and spirituality. It is said that nearly 60% of the women struggling found strength in religion. There are different ways in which a professionals may introduce spirituality into a treatment. One way is having the professional bring spirituality into the session directly. Another way is having the client bring spirituality into the session willingly (Zittel-Palamara, Cercone & Rockmaker, 2009).
In one study almost two-thirds of the participants disclosed that they found strength from their religion. Of the women in the study, the vast majority reported having limited ability to access postpartum depression care. Over 50% of the women in the study that wanted spiritual guidance reported that it was not hard for them to find postpartum depression care. This study found that a lack of desire to seek spiritual assistance could actually be linked to these women’s longer exposure to mental health issues in their lives before their pregnancy (Zittel-Palamara, Cercone & Rockmaker, 2009) .
Women who believe that they find strength in their religion would be well served to seek treatment for postpartum depression that includes spirituality. When a person is under great stress and feelings of desperation, it is wise to turn to religion and spirituality because it appears to be a positive strategy to cope with these issues. Numerous studies done with people of color and individuals suffering from mental health issues have shown that people who turn to spirituality reported decrease in symptoms, a better outlook, and increased positivity (Zittel-Palamara, Cercone & Rockmaker, 2009).
My understanding of depression leads me to think that even with all the treatment options out there it is hard to find one that relieves the depression. Based on this article, I have learned that religion is a big part in the treatment process for some women. I feel like being prescribed antidepressants could have variable results and finding the strength through religion could be a stable base for some of these women struggling. Many people may need to be prescribed medications but can also focus on religion as part of their treatment plan.
This article leaves me wanting to do more research on the medical based treatments to see how effective/non-effective they are in comparison.  Also, a critique would be for them to do more follow-up studies so they know their results can be repeated.
Zittel-Palamara, K., Cercone, S.A. & Rockmaker, J.R. (2009). Spiritual support for women with postpartum depression. Journal of psychology and Christianity, 28(3), 213-223.