Postpartum Depression

Dropping the Baby and Other Scary Thoughts: Book Review and Comparison

As I may have mentioned before, I hate to read. However, it comes with the territory of the work that I do that I need to read and provide quality book recommendations to my clients. I knew that I needed to put books by therapist, author and PMAD pro Karen Kleiman and co-author Amy Wenzel at the top of my list. Based on what I’ve read so far, I can say with confidence that ANYTHING with Karen Kleiman as an author/co-author is going to be a valuable read (Yes I am fangirling here…she’s amazing and I want to be her when I grow up!) A few months ago I did a review on “Good Moms have Scary Thoughts” which you can read HERE, but I wanted to go back to the OG of books on scary thoughts, which is why the subject of this review is “Dropping the Baby and Other Scary Thoughts: Breaking the Cycle of Unwanted Thoughts in Motherhood”.

Compared to “Good Moms” this book offers a much more in depth understanding of what exactly scary thoughts are, what causes them, and approaches on how to gain relief. The book is divided in three sections titled “What’s going on”, “Clinical Concerns”, and “Breaking the Cycle of Scary Thoughts”.

Section One differentiates between typical presentations of new mom worry, anxiety, and scary thoughts. It details the different types of scary thoughts that mothers have and includes examples and personal accounts from real women who share their own experiences. The authors do a really good job of normalizing some of these experiences for new parents. They also share some of the “why” behind the scary thoughts, which is very important to many mothers to help with externalizing symptoms and helping ease some of the blame moms place on themselves for having them in the first place. I think it’s important to note that at the end of each chapter they offer a “Take Home Point” for both mothers and clinicians. This was very helpful especially since there is so much good information it’s useful to boil it down to the most valuable information.

Section Two starts with helping mothers recognize when they need additional help/support in addressing their scary anxious thoughts. The different types of Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders (PMADs) are discussed and “really scary thoughts” including suicidal thoughts and psychotic symptoms are also addressed. There is a chapter on barriers to relief and a chapter on screening. I think that these chapters speak a little more to the clinicians reading the book, however are valuable to mothers in order to predict potential obstacles and promote self-advocacy in their treatment.

Finally Section Three really gets at the meat and potatoes of how to get relief. The authors give ideas that are easy to implement and practice in order to begin experience change as well as a whole chapter on Cognitive Behavioral Interventions. This is Amy Wenzel’s chapter to really shine as she’s an expert in utilizing this approach with the perinatal population and co-authored a book with Karen Kleiman on this topic (and HEY I’ve shockingly already read it and it’s awesome! Check it out below!) They continue the section by discussing professional options like therapy and/or medication when self-help just isn’t moving the needle for readers as well as offer a chapter on enlisting help from the supports available to moms.

I would say the best chapter in the book is entitled “Your Personal Treatment Plan” which helps readers create an action plan of how to take all the information presented in the book and implement it. I think this is a great way to put everything in the book together. This is especially helpful for a new mom who is most likely sleep deprived and reading in a disjointed way making it difficult to remember what you read in chapter one by the time you get to chapter 11!

Compared to “Good Moms Have Scary Thoughts” this book is a little more “book-y” in that it’s longer and presented in a typical fashion, whereas “Good Moms” has a more relaxed approach to presenting information. I have a hard time imagining the moms I work with in their most anxious or depressed state sitting down to read this type of book. For that reason I am more likely to recommend “Good Moms” first. I say that while also recognizing that the moms I interact with are typically in significant distress which is why they are coming to me in the first place and a reader dealing with less intensive symptoms may do just fine with this book. I also want to acknowledge that I am also saying that as a non-reader and for someone who reading comes more naturally to, it may bring great comfort to sit and read a book of this nature. This book is a little pricey although I feel the info in it is of great worth. “Good Moms” is much more inexpensive which makes it giftable as a baby shower or new mom present.

To my understanding the book is currently being revised and updated but there was nothing in this book I felt was dated or irrelevant. All in all in my opinion this book is another winner by these authors, and I would highly recommend it to both clinicians and moms.

If you are interested in reading either of these titles click on the following links to purchase through Amazon. And as always, feel free to reach out through my contact page to get more info on this or any other topic relating to reproductive and maternal mental health.