Nurse Carole Sheehan explains what a woman should do if she thinks she has postpartum depression (PPD).
Nurse Carole Sheehan:
She should talk to somebody who she feels really comfortable with and who knows her very well. I think that it’s a good starting point to talk to someone familiar and easy and reflect to them what she feels is going on or how she is different and ask that person if they have noticed that about her as well.
And then, the next thing to do somewhat depends on the timing. If she is still a month or two after the delivery of a baby, she probably still has a relationship with her obstetrician or a nurse midwife, and that would be the first person to go talk to.
If she can’t get help from that person, they will probably say, “This isn’t my area. I want you to go to your family practice doctor,” and unfortunately, this often does happen that a woman might not even have a family practice doctor to start to go see the following week.
So sometimes women will utilize their local community mental health center. It just depends really on the acuity of their experience at the time. If they need immediate help and can’t get it from their primary caregiver, even walking into a hospital emergency room is okay and is a good place to start, just to start talking about what’s going on and get support and feedback from hospital personnel and see if they are concerned that she might be a danger to herself or to anybody else and then recommend resources for her.
Most women don’t need hospitalization who have postpartum depression, but what they do need is a responsive person who understands the disorder, who can lead them in the direction of treatment. A resource throughout Arizona is the Arizona Warmline, which is not a hotline because we don’t answer the phone, but it is manned by women who have been there. Some of them are volunteer moms and some of them are volunteer professionals like myself who have also had the experience, and we return calls every day between 9:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m., 7-days-a-week.
So we can talk to women and help them define what’s going on with them and then, when they tell us what area they live in, we’ll let them know if we know of specific postpartum depression resources in their area.
888-434-MOMS, which is 6667.
About Carole Sheehan, M.A., R.N.:
Carole Sheehan is a nurse at Carondelet St. Joseph's Hospital in Tucson, Arizona and the founder of the Tucson Postpartum Depression Coalition. She works to raise awareness about PPD and introduce screening as a method of prevention through prenatal visits. She also encourages the distribution of information about PPD to pregnant women so they have the tools and resources to get help when they need it.