Lowcountry group helps new moms battling postpartum depression

A Lowcountry support group for moms with postpartum depression is helping moms through those difficult months. (Source: Live 5)
A Lowcountry support group for moms with postpartum depression is helping moms through those difficult months. (Source: Live 5)

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Having children brings new challenges and for some mothers, deep depression.

Experts say postpartum depression, if not treated, can prompt a mother to believe the world would be better off without her, and sometimes her baby.

But a Lowcountry support group for moms with postpartum depression is helping moms through those difficult months. One in seven women will experience postpartum depression, according to Dr. Connie Guille of MUSC.

"It is actually the most common complication following the birth of a child," Guille said.

And it is common for women to deny they have a problem. Just ask Tamara Davis.

"We're taught to be strong, you get through this together, put your big girl pantyhose on and get through it, you know what I'm saying?" Davis said as she wiped away tears.

Her postpartum depression came after the birth of her fourth child. Her family noticed it, especially her oldest because children also suffer the effects of the illness.

"She doesn't know anything about postpartum depression, all she knew was something was wrong with mommy," Davis said.

Davis said she felt numb or empty. Common symptoms include anxiety, crying a lot, problems sleeping, feelings of anger or rage, and losing interest in life.

"Then there's thoughts they don't want to be there any more and actually their baby would be better off without them," Guille said.

Amber Weakley said she had postpartum depression twice.

"All I wanted to do was sit and cry and I couldn't take care of my baby," Weakley said.

Both times, Weakly's postpartum depression appeared about eight months after delivery. Now she helps other women get through it.

"It's amazing to be that help for someone else and know that you can tell them that it's going to be okay and they're going to get through it," Weakley said.

And women learn it is not their fault.

"We're very judgmental of women and moms in general, and they don't feel like they're measuring up if they have depression or anxiety," Guille said.

Seeing a doctor is the first step.  Treatment involves medication and meeting other women who've been through it.  Postpartum Support Charleston offers group sessions and grant money to help moms get the therapy they need.

"Sometimes the social stigma surrounding mental health is a huge obstacle because we do see these Instagrammed motherhood stories where we're putting our best face forward and we're not talking about how our children didn't sleep last night and how exhausted we are," Amber Allen of Postpartum Support Charleston said.

"I never was to the point I wanted to hurt my child, it was more like I just wanted to go to sleep and didn't wake up, it was more of an effect on me," Davis said.

These moms will heal, Guille said.

"Everyone does eventually recover and gets back to kind of who they are and what they want to be doing," she said.  They once again enjoy motherhood and their partners.

"I didn't want to lose my marriage and my kids to what was going on with me and I'd never experienced before so I had to go get help," Davis said. "We laugh a lot now. The old me is coming back."

"And you feel like you will get better even though in the moment you don't feel like there's any possibility you'll feel normal again," Weakley said.

If you want more information or know someone who needs help, go to www.ppdsupport.org.

Guille says postpartum depression can happen during pregnancy, or if a woman has depression before pregnancy, it can get worse due to the stresses of pregnancy.

Copyright 2018 WCSC. All rights reserved.