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Postpartum-depression clinic helps women become happy moms

May 8, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
One in 10 mothers develops postpartum depression. It's a crippling, frustrating condition that - up until recently - many women suffered from without asking for help. But now, a first-of-its-kind postpartum depression clinic is helping women become the happy, confident moms they were meant to be.

Amy Martin is a 37-year-old single mom, balancing three kids, a job and a crazy schedule. But two years ago when she brought Avery home from the hospital, she started having terrifying thoughts like "I can't do it, I'm a horrible mother, I'm gonna hurt the kids, I'm gonna hurt myself, I can't do this."

"I was hyperventilating and shaking and feeling like I was about to die," she said.

Severe sadness, feelings of failure, withdrawal, fatigue, thoughts of suicide or harming the baby are all symptoms of serious postpartum depression.

"This is something that is real. It's something that lots of women go through, and lots of women don't know that there's help," Martin said.

At the nation's first free-standing perinatal psychiatry center at University of North Carolina Hospital, specially trained nurses, therapists and lactation consultants offer a range of intensive sessions to assist moms with coping and relaxation. The overall goal is for each mother and child to bond during treatment as much as they would at home.

"To help the mother, to help the mom interact with the baby, we also want to help the mother develop confidence that she can deal with stress anxiety and coping skills around this new role," said Dr. Samantha Meltzer-Brody from the University of North Carolina.

In a study of 869 women admitted to inpatient postpartum units in France between 2001 and 2007, two-thirds had significant improvement by the time they were discharged.

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