Mum’s post­na­tal de­pres­sion bat­tle

Albany Advertiser - - NEWS - Sarah Ison

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.

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