NNDC Members Dr. Robert Ammerman, University of Cincinnati & Lindner Center of Hope and Dr. Bill Beardslee, Harvard University both participated in the creation of this SAMHSA Toolkit on Maternal Depression. The toolkit is designed for professionals who work with low income mothers and often encounter depression. Below is an excerpt from the introduction of the toolkit:
“A young mother described the first few weeks at home with her new daughter this way: “At first I thought what I was feeling was just exhaustion, but with it came an overriding sense of panic that I had never felt before. Rowan kept crying and I began to dread the moment when Chris would bring her back to me. I started to experience a sick sensation in my stomach; it was as if a vise were tightening around my chest. Instead of the nervous anxiety that often accompanies panic, a feeling of devastation overcame me. I hardly moved. Sitting on my bed, I let out a deep, slow, guttural wail. I wasn’t simply emotional or weepy, like I had been told I might be. This was something quite different. In the past, if I got depressed or if I felt sad or down, I knew I could counteract it with exercise, a good night’s sleep, or a nice dinner with a friend. If PMS made me introspective or melancholy, or if the pressures of life made me gloomy, I knew these feelings wouldn’t last forever. But this was a sadness of shockingly different magnitude. It felt as if it would never go away.”*
Many mothers struggle daily with depression. Depression makes them feel down, sad, or blue. What’s worse is that many mothers don’t even know that they are depressed. People who work with mothers with young children are in a position to address a very serious problem that often goes unnoticed. Mothers and their children and families can live better lives if the women realize that they have depression and then get help. This toolkit is designed for community-based providers, including those in home visitation programs; workers in the WIC (Women, Infants, and Children) program; and staff in Early Head Start, Head Start, and other child care programs. The toolkit delivers background information about depression and offers ideas that providers can use daily when helping mothers, and their families, who may be suffering from depression. The toolkit also includes useful resources and handouts for mothers with depression.”
*Shields, Brooke. (2005). Down Came the Rain: My Journey Through Postpartum Depression (2005). New York: Hyperion Books, p. 65.