Beyond Blue

Depression affects women almost twice as often as men, with about one in four women suffering from it in her lifetime. While depression may strike at any time, studies show that women are particularly vulnerable during their childbearing years. Two important books just published offer a better understanding of and glimpse into the terrifying despair of postpartum depression and depression in general among women.

In “A Deeper Shade of Blue: A Woman’s Guide to Recognizing and Treating Depression in Her Childbearing Years,” Dr. Ruta Nonacs, M.D., Ph.D., a senior member of the Center for Women’s Mental Health at Massachusetts General Hospital and mother of two children herself, confronts the seldom talked-about issues of pregnancy-related depression and the many complicated issues in a woman’s life during the span of her childbearing years–education, career, marriage, childbearing, and child rearing–and discusses the ways in which depression often takes hold during potentially stressful times.

In “Why I Jumped: My True Story of Postpartum Depression, Dramatic Rescue, and Return to Hope,” Tina Zahn tells the harrowing tale of her attempted suicide–jumping off a bridge 200 feet over the Fox River in Green Bay, Wisconsin–that was intercepted by Wisconsin State Police Officer Les Boldt, who in a miracle of timing and determination, snagged her wrist as she started the plunge.

In her book, Zahn offers readers a glimpse into the despair and devastation of depression but also speaks out with a message of hope. She writes about the causes of her depression, the debilitation, the maze of treatments, and shares what she has learned about medical, mental and spiritual healing. I especially liked this passage:

“For many years I tried to fix myself. When I had a problem, I took care of it. With anything and everything, I tried to do life on my own. Then came a day when all my efforts left me exhausted, broken, despondent, and empty. I looked out the window that day and asked God, ‘What next?’

When we reach the end of ourselves, God is there. Healing doesn’t come in a day or an hour or a session. It doesn’t come with one pill or one bottle of pills, with one doctor or one treatment. And it doesn’t always come easily for those of us with decades of pain buried deep beneath the surface. But healing can come. You can’t give up….

Depression is a liar. It will tell you whatever it can to keep you embroiled in the darkness.

But there is joy in the light.

There is hope in the future.”

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