Postpartum Depression Clinic Opens in North Carolina
By: Phil Holleman
A clinic for mothers with postpartum depression, the first of its kind, opened at a University of North Carolina hospital in Chapel Hill on Monday, August 15th, 2011.
What’s Wrong With Me?
Maria Bruno realized something was wrong when she put newborn son, Nicolas, down for a nap and was too afraid to pick him up.
This scared Maria, so she called her midwife and said she couldn’t take care of the baby and was miserable all of the time.
The midwife asked if she had thoughts of hurting herself. “I just laughed,” Bruno says. “I said, all the time.”
Because of these comments, Bruno’s midwife thought her life was in danger, so she called the police. They took her to a University of North Carolina hospital in Chapel Hill, where Bruno was diagnosed with severe postpartum depression.
What Do We Do?
Since the hospital had no inpatient program for postpartum women, Bruno was placed in the same ward with those patients suffering from schizophrenics, drug addicts, and dementia patients. She was placed on a high 24-hour suicide alert.
The staff was so concerned with safety, Bruno said:
When I pumped, I had to have someone outside the door because they didn’t want me to try and strangle myself with the pump parts or something ridiculous.
Bruno felt she was incapable of being the mother she wanted to be, but never intended to act on her suicidal thoughts.
Chris Raines, a therapist at UNC’s Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders Program, met with Bruno after she was transferred into outpatient therapy. Raines said:
I’ve had women come in here for a session and have said, ‘All I want you to do is give me the name of an adoption agency, because there’s got to be a better mother out there for this baby than me.’
They will say emphatically, ‘I never thought about hurting my baby, but I would have these thoughts that I would see my babies with knives in it.’ I’ve had moms that won’t go by the kitchen because they’re afraid that they’re going to pick up a knife – because they’ve had this thought and they don’t know what it means.
Although therapists like Raines assure the mothers those thoughts are just that, thoughts, those who aren’t trained in the area of postpartum depression don’t realize this.
In order to be released, Ms. Bruno had to agree to certain rules:
- Stop crying
- Take an antidepressant (ugh!)
- Go to group therapy – though the sessions were for alcoholics and drug addicts (not even close to her situation)
After 5 days, she was released.
Here Comes The Cavalry
Because of Ms. Bruno’s experience, Ms. Raines pushed for an inpatient hospital clinic where the staff understands the needs of women suffering from postpartum depression.
Dr. Samantha Meltzer-Brody directs the UNC Center for Women’s Disorders. In the center, there are breast pumps and comfortable rocking chairs. There is individual therapy and family therapy. Babies have extended visiting hours so that mom and little one can create a routine. Dr. Meltzer-Brody says:
Not in the middle of the heart clinic, not in the middle of a different ward, but in a specialty ward that takes care of women during pregnancy and postpartum.
We think the mental health services for the people that need it also needs to be appropriate.
The Future Appears Bright
The really exciting thing is the clinic is a model for what needs to be happening across the country, and the world. Dr. Meltzer-Brody says cals are coming in from Michigan, Arizona, and other states. Doctors and women want to know about the services.
This type of a clinic is a very much-needed one. Here is one step in helping those who suffer from depression in one form or another. It’s my hope this is the beginning of good things to come. When people see they can get the help that’s needed, hopefully they won’t be afraid to seek that help.
Let’s hope insurance companies understand the benefits of clinics like this and provide adequate coverage so moms can get help. They don’t need to feel they are alone.
Yours in good health,
Phil Holleman spent over 11 years struggling with major depression. He became an “expert” at being depressed! After realizing he had the knowledge and strength to rise above the illness and stigma associated with it, he created ABoldNewLife.com to help others who are recovering or desperately want to recover. He hopes you will join him on the journey and use your inner strength to be freed from the bondage of depression.
Phil wants you to have the FREE special report: “7 Mistakes You Make When You Suffer From Depression”. Stop feeling hopeless, sad, and unworthy. Get this report now!
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