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Screening for Post-Partum Depression

Published April 13, 2011

 

By Cathy Hulbert, LCSW, Social Worker

Horizons in Hemophilia, April 2011

When you listen to women speak about post-partum depression, you realize that it often involves a great deal of suffering and confusion for the women themselves and their worried family members. Women who have a history of being abused, who are struggling financially or who give birth to a baby considered “different,” as in having a disability, all are at higher risk for post-partum depression, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The good news is that post-partum depression is treatable. If you think that you or a loved one is suffering from this disorder, you do not have to suffer in silence.

One mother of a Hemophilia of Georgia client was eager to share her experience in the hope that it would help someone else. We will call her Grace S., which is not her real name.  Grace had an 8-year-old son with severe hemophilia A at the time her baby girl was born.  An astute aunt recognized the symptoms and insisted that Grace seek help at the local emergency room.

“I was trying to go back to work and take care of my family, but for some reason I was crying all of the time. My son (now a teen) was going back and forth to the clinic at Scottish Rite for his hemophilia issues. I started to feel really agitated and upset and I was crying all of the time. Nobody knew what was wrong with me, including myself,” Grace said. “But my Auntie, she knew exactly what I was going through. She told me she would help with the kids and made me go to the emergency room. I told the doctor my symptoms. I didn’t hold anything back. And the doctor told me that I had post-partum depression.”

The doctor recognized the seriousness of her depression and growing anxiety. Battling painful thoughts and bodily changes triggered by extreme hormonal shifts following pregnancy, she became terrified that she was going to hurt one of her kids. Grace said the doctor’s orders for her recovery included two weeks away from her children, including her newborn, and plenty of bed rest. She was grateful that family members stepped in to help and did not make her feel worse by telling her to cheer up or get over it.

“After that, I felt like a new person,” she said. “I just needed to get myself right before I could take care of anyone else.” 
 
According to the CDC, depression is common among women in general. It is recommended that all women who give birth be screened for post-partum depression in the weeks after delivery.  It is also recommended that pediatricians create an additional safety net for families by helping to screen new mothers for symptoms of post-partum depression.  

Please follow this link for more information on symptoms provided by the CDC: 
http://www.cdc.gov/reproductivehealth/Depression/index.htm