Andie’s depression started after she gave birth to her daughter.
“I was experiencing thoughts of self-harm pretty much since the day I had her,” Andie said.
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, even as her depression and anxiety worsened, Andie initially did not look for a therapist. She didn’t want to go out and didn’t know she could access therapy virtually.
More than a year after her daughter’s birth, her symptoms still hadn’t improved. Andie started seeing a psychiatrist and therapist virtually. She took time off work to focus on taking care of herself. But even with outpatient therapy and medication, her symptoms tormented her.
“There were no happy thoughts,” she said. “Basically, I just did not want to be on the earth anymore.”
Her therapist and psychiatrist pointed her to AMITA Health for the next level of care.
“I really don’t think that I would have survived my postpartum depression without the program,” Andie said.
Intensive, Specialized Treatment for New and Expecting Moms
As many as 1 in 5 women experiences significant symptoms of depression or anxiety during or after pregnancy. The effects can be debilitating.
In response to the need for more intensive, specialized services for this vulnerable population, AMITA Health started an intensive outpatient program for perinatal mood disorders in 2015. Patients are in treatment in person or virtually for three-and-a-half hours a day, four days a week.
Last year, 185 people received treatment through the program. The pandemic has placed women who are pregnant or have recently given birth at higher risk for depression and anxiety. As a result, the need for services is increasing, with 40% more people receiving help since the pandemic started.
“Our goal is to make sure that these services can be offered to anyone, no matter what their financial or insurance situation is,” said Kim McCue, the program’s clinical supervisor. “For that reason, this program needs funding from generous donors to support moms that may not have insurance.”
Donors' Generosity Is Saving Lives
AMITA’s program appealed to Andie because it was designed specifically for moms.
Being exclusively with other women who were experiencing depression and anxiety during or after their pregnancy made Andie more comfortable putting herself out there, she said.
“Before I was in the IOP I felt extremely alone. And when I was admitted into the IOP I felt like I had another family.”
Because her postpartum depression occurred during the pandemic, Andie received treatment virtually. She worked with her case manager and program psychiatrist. Her husband and mom joined for family therapy. She learned strategies and skills to deal with her symptoms. She found comfort in relating to other women in the program — and in knowing she was not alone.
That, she said, was the main reason she wanted to share her story: to reach other women who may be suffering, not knowing what to do or how to get help.
“There are people experiencing what you’re experiencing and there are people that are trained to help, and that are willing to help, willing to listen when needed,” she said.
When Andie found those people at AMITA, she added, her life began to turn around.
“This program really does work,” Andie said. “I just want to say thank you. The generosity of the donors is really, literally saving lives.”