Postpartum depression is a serious disorder that many women experience after having a baby.
It can be treated, but there is a stigma involved with it, and many women fail to seek treatment for that reason. The symptoms of postpartum depression can be different for each woman. They include sadness, anger, anxiety, hopelessness, and even violent thoughts toward the child.
According to Robert T. Ammerman, a professor of pediatrics at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, only about 20 percent to 30 percent of women who experience postpartum depression in the United States get proper treatment, and for low-income mothers, the rate is considerably lower.
Many women can’t afford treatment, are scared to talk to their doctors, or assume that the feelings they have are normal for new moms.
The disorder can be treated with medication and/or therapy, and women are able to recover and live normal lives after suffering from it.
There are plenty of people and doctors who encourage women to speak to their healthcare providers if they have symptoms of postpartum depression.
One woman, Jessica Porten, did just that, and what happened to her was an awful experience that she will likely never forget.
She shared her story on Facebook. She posted:
“I had a really hard time deciding whether I should post something about what happened last night, since putting it on Facebook wouldn’t help the situation. But I don’t know, I feel like this has to be said out into the world so you can all see how little support mothers get from our healthcare system.
“I had an OB appointment yesterday, my first since giving birth 4 months ago (because they kept cancelling my appointments), which is inhumane in my eyes. I went to the appointment alone with Kira. It was at 2:10, and I was not called back to a room until 3:15. A nurse practitioner comes in (one I don’t particularly care for) and I tell her everything my husband told them when he scheduled me the appointment a week ago. That I have postpartum depression that is manifesting in fits of anger, and I want to discuss my medication options. I tell them I have a very strong support system at home, so although I would never hurt myself or my baby, I’m having violent thoughts and I need medication and therapy to get through this. She rushed through my pelvic exam, barely spoke about medication, said she needed to talk to the doctor about my PPD, and left the room.
“They called the [expletive] cops on me.
“They had a staff member sit with me for over an hour waiting for the police to arrive. The cops show up and we’re trying to figure out the logistics of how they’re going to escort me to the ER because I have Kira and her car seat. The cops can clearly see I’m of sound mind and that this whole thing is bullshit, so they allow me to drive to the ER with Kira in my car while one cop drives in front of me and one follows behind. We arrive at the ER and I’m checked in, triaged, blood drawn. I am assigned a security guard to babysit me. I wait for over an hour and Scott is finally able to come down to support me (he was watching Luna and did not have her car seat so he had to wait for my dad to get home before he could come over). They finally get us a room, which they only did because we have a baby.
“They take me to the bathroom so I can give a urine sample. They make me remove all of my clothes (including my flip flops, which they replaced with socks) and then take them away from me and lock them up. We missed dinner, so a nurse gives us two shitty little turkey sandwiches. I am not seen by a social worker until 10:45pm. She decides she does not need to put me on a psychiatric hold, and they process my discharge.
“Not once during all of this has a doctor laid eyes on me. Not once. Not even before they decided to call the cops on me. The social worker hands me some papers and discusses the information in them, telling me she thinks these ‘will probably be good resources for you.’
“I leave the ER at midnight, my spirit more broken than ever, no medication, no follow up appointment, never spoke to a doctor. This was a 10 hour ordeal that I had to go through all while caring for my infant that I had with me. And that’s it. That’s what I got for telling my OB that I have PPD and I need help. I was treated like a criminal and then discharged with nothing but a stack of xeroxed printouts with phone numbers on them.
“I’m still processing all of the emotions that are coming with being treated this way. I’m not exactly sure what to do here. I will say I am deeply hurt and upset, and above all angry and disgusted and disappointed by how this whole thing went down.
“Ladies and gentlemen, our healthcare system.”
Although this is an unusual situation, this is one of the reasons so many women are scared to talk about their depression.
They don’t want to be judged, and many fear having their children taken from them. Jessica’s story is every postpartum sufferer’s worst nightmare, and it doesn’t encourage anyone to seek treatment.
Jessica posted an update a few days after sharing her story.
She thanked everyone for the support and explained that she was planning to use her story to make sure similar things do not happen to other mothers. Many people who read her story suggested she switch doctors, but she explained that she wasn’t going to do that, either. She was instead going to make sure her doctor had the proper training and to continue to raise awareness of the issue.
While Jessica’s story is terrifying, it is not how most patients are handled.
If you are experienced postpartum symptoms, talk to your doctor. Don’t be afraid to come forward or seek treatment. Most doctors are trained to handle their patients a lot better than Jessica’s doctor treated her. There is help. Don’t be afraid to ask for it.
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