Joan Mudd sensed a deep sadness in her daughter Jennifer Mudd Houghtaling.
Jennifer had always been a cheerful, spontaneous person who wanted a baby more than anything, but after the birth of her son Jennifer seemed lost in her own world of hopelessness.
"She opened up on Mother’s Day and said how very sad she was. She’d lost confidence in herself and no solutions seemed to alter the situation for her," Joan says.
Despite visits from family, multiple stays in the hospital and two different medications, nothing seemed to help Jennifer.
"We were left without one shred of what we could do to help her," Joan says. "Nothing seemed to help her. We knew she was lost."
In July, Joan convinced Jennifer to come back to Chicago with her for a break. Joan tried to call Jennifer’s psychiatrist to get her medication changed. She never received a call back.
The next morning, July 7, 2001, Joan tried to stay by Jennifer every moment, While Joan was on the phone with yet another psychiatrist, Jennifer slipped out of her mother’s high-rise in downtown Chicago.
"I put the phone down and I thought ‘Oh my God, she’s gone,’ " Joan says. She frantically contacted police, and two hours later, a detective came to the door and said Jennifer was at the morgue. She had thrown herself in front of a train.
Devastated and angered by the lack of treatment for this illness, Joan has become an advocate for screening and treatment of PPD.
Joan founded the Jennifer Mudd Houghtaling Postpartum Depression Program to educate medical personnel about screening and treatment for PPD. Whenever Joan finds herself overwhelmed with the task she has taken on, she meets someone else whose life has been changed by PPD and it gives her the spark to continue fighting.
"It’s almost like it comes from outside of me. There’s an enormous amount of rage that women have been treated with apathy," Joan says. "Imagine the women who have suffered through this silently throughout the years."
How to know if it’s more than just the bluesThe Baby Blues is the most well-known category of normal adjustment that affects 50 to 80 percent of new mothers. This is not considered a postpartum mood disorder, but a common occurrence that is hormonally induced. The onset can be from birth through the first few weeks. Baby blues symptoms include, but are not limited to feeling:
• TenseIf after two weeks postpartum the symptoms continue or worsen, it may indicate a more serious condition. If you have any of the following symptoms call your health care provider.
• Excessive crying
• Not enjoying life
• Mood swings
• Sleep and appetite changes
• Panic attacks
• Thoughts of hurting yourself and/ or your baby*
• Loss of control *
• Hallucinations **Requires immediate interventionCourtesy of Diane Semprevivo, Women’s Behavioral Health Services, Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital