ALTADENA (CBSLA.com) — Postpartum depression is an illness few like to talk about, but could have deadly consequences if left untreated.
A government-appointed task force Tuesday urged health providers to screen all new moms and pregnant women for depression, recognizing that symptoms often begin before the baby is born.
“I just became a really angry mom,” says Kate Wilkinson, who explains that she started feeling doubt, shame and anxiety before she even delivered her third baby.
When Wilkinson welcomed her sons, she says the feelings intensified.
“Everyone around you is saying, ‘Oh, he’s so beautiful. What a great baby,’ and you’re just in your mind going, ‘I just want to run away,’ ” she recalls.
The Altadena mom was never screened for postpartum depression by her obstetrician.
Instead, it was a fellow mom who found Wilkinson’s blog, the Retro Modern Mom, and recognized in her writing that Wilkinson needed professional help.
“I didn’t know that I had as many symptoms as I did until I went to a website and looked at the symptoms and I was like, ‘Oh, I thought I was just experiencing baby blues,’ ” she said. “I didn’t realize it was full blown postpartum depression.”
It’s estimated one in seven moms will experience postpartum depression.
“We understand in our field that actually the seeds of postpartum depression really begin to show themselves in the last trimester of the pregnancy,” said Diana Barnes, a psychotherapist.
Barnes specializes in women’s reproductive mental health. She says some doctors screen, but not enough.
“There may be a couple of reasons. First of all, lack of knowledge or information. And also, if I screen and I find that a woman is vulnerable or is depressed, then what do I do,” Barnes said.
Wilkinson has recovered and her son will celebrate his first birthday this weekend. She hopes sharing her story will inspire others to get help.
“Knowing you can’t take care of your kids is one of the worst feelings as a mom,” she said.
For more information and resources on postpartum depression visit Material Mental Health NOW.
The website includes an online searchable resource directory under “FIND HELP NOW.” The directory includes more than 220 providers who can address maternal depression in pregnancy and postpartum.