Jacques Dayan

Mum, Why Are You Crying? Emotional Disorders Linked to Pregnancy and Motherhood Publication date : February 1, 2002

The psychological problems of young mothers are often ignored, because both the women in question and society strongly deny what is happening: How can a new mother, or mother-to-be, not feel at the height of fulfilment and happiness? Isn’t maternity regarded as an essential aspect of womanhood? Everything conspires to make women ignore their suffering: the fear of being regarded as a bad mother, as well as the mixed feelings of joy and depression that can accompany childbirth.
Very few women take the initiative of consulting a doctor: they are generally blind to their own depression. Often, the baby — who isn’t feeding, doesn’t sleep and cries a lot — is the reason for consulting a doctor. In these cases, the child’s well-being is as much at stake as the mother’s, since the infant’s development may be harmed. Yet post-natal depression, often called the “smiling depression”, is frequently blamed on exhaustion caused by childbirth and sleepless nights.
Step by step, Jacques Dayan shows the reader how to identify and understand the various forms of maternal depressions: the depressive state brought on by pregnancy, post-natal depression or “baby blues”, and the spectacular disorder known as puerperal psychosis. What are the symptoms of these different types of depression? What is their origin? How do they develop? How can they be prevented? What are the consequences for the child?
This is a moving book, containing many personal accounts and interviews, as well as information and advice so that young mothers’ sleepless nights do not turn into waking nightmares. It also offers explanations and highlights signs to watch out, for so that infants do not become the involuntary victims of their mothers’ depression.

Jacques Dayan is a medical psychiatrist, a psychoanalyst, and a hospital physician in the department of child psychiatry at the university hospital in Caen, France.