Mum’s postnatal depression battle
WA mother Anna Luczak thought she was “broken and could never be fixed” after being diagnosed with post-natal depression with suicidal ideation.
Now, she says she is living proof there is hope to “find your way back to a normal life” with treatment.
Ms Luczak said she believed she would not be alive today had it not been for the care she received at the King Edward Memorial Hospital’s specialised mother-baby unit for almost six months in 2014.
While all mothers of newborns suffer from a lack of sleep, just a month after her son Thomas, now 4, was born, Ms Luczak suddenly found herself unable to drop off even when he was dozing.
“Everything was perfect,” she said “But three to four weeks after he was born everything started to get out of control really quickly.
“I started to become extremely anxious about nothing and lost the ability to sleep. It would be the middle of winter and I was lying there sweating. I literally felt like I was on fire.”
At its worst, Ms Luczac said she remembered going six days without sleep and imagining how she would kill herself while walking down the street with her baby in his pram. “I started becoming obsessed with suicide,” she said.
Ms Luczac was admitted to the mother-and-baby unit after a desperate visit to her GP where she said she begged him to euthanise her. She was immediately admitted and the first step was for her to get a full night’s sleep before treatment began in earnest.
While such an extreme case of post-natal depression is rare, Ms Luczac is far from alone when it comes to being a sufferer of the illness.
According to Beyond Blue, one in seven Australian women suffer from post-natal depression, which would equal anywhere between 4000 to 4500 cases in WA, based on the number of births recorded year to year.
Ms Luczak said she was one of the lucky ones to be given a bed in a unit so quickly, and welcomed the introduction of eight mother-baby unit beds to Fiona Stanley Hospital in addition to the eight at KEMH since she underwent her treatment.
Keeping women and their newborns together during post-natal depression and anxiety treatment is essential for both mother and baby, according to Monash Alfred Psychiatry Research Centre professor Jayashri Kulkarni.
A North Metropolitan Health Service spokesman confirmed that of the 16 beds available in WA, all were in Perth.
“There are no similar units (to the KEMH or FSH mother and baby unit) in operation across the State,” he said. “Both units provide inpatient treatment for regional women who may be eligible to receive travel assistance and support through the WA Country Health Service.
“The units may have a varying small wait list, however, women are admitted as soon as possible to minimise delays as far as is possible.”
Regional mothers were also offered in-community services including telehealth access to psychiatry services in the absence of face-to-face appointments.