The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Ruth's story

Unlike Kim Groninga, Ruth Craven can't write about her struggle with postpartum depression. The 33-year-old died Dec. 5, 1999, two and a half months after her son's birth. So her mother, Helena Bradford, tells Ruth's story.

"Although she pulled the trigger," Bradford begins, "Ruth didn't commit suicide. Postpartum depression killed my child." A member of All Saints Lutheran Church, Mount Pleasant, S.C., Bradford has said these words to women's groups statewide to raise awareness of the disease.

Two years ago, Bradford and several other women established the Ruth Rhoden Craven Foundation Inc. for Postpartum Depression Awareness (www.ppdsupport.org). "Before Ruth was stricken with postpartum depression, I had never even heard of it," Bradford admits. "I want others to be informed so that what happened to Ruth won't happen to others. Had I known what I know now, Ruth would be alive today."

The foundation's Web site defines postpartum depression as "the emotional and physical reactions occurring within days to weeks after the birth of a baby and characterized by feelings of sadness, despair, hopelessness and discouragement." Readers learn it can range from "baby blues" all the way to postpartum psychosis and discover the symptoms and treatment needs of each.

Bradford emphasizes that it's "a temporary illness. It strikes women who are young and not-so-young, women who have had a history of depression and who have none, women who are well-educated and who are poorly educated, women who have a strong social support system and who do not.

"It's totally treatable. No one should have to die from it if properly diagnosed and treated."

The Web site includes suggestions for getting treatment, as well as resource organizations, links to other Web sites and books.


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February issue


Embracing diversity