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Harvard Health Blog
Postpartum depression: The worst kept secret
- By: Andrea Chisholm, MD, Contributor
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My sister killed herself in 2015 after battling postpartum depression and losing. She had a severe breakdown when my nephew was 3 months old. I was watching him for my brother in law so he could work. She signed herself out of the hospital and came to my house to get the baby. First, let me say my sister was my best friend, we were only 11 months apart in age, she was the best person ever, when she wasn’t in one of her wild mood swings. Anyway, I wouldn’t give her the baby. She needed help and I knew it so I sent her to a different hospital by my house. They released her with information to go to a clinic down by here house (she didn’t have insurance) she was placed on medication and leveled off for 7 months. When my nephew was 11 months old, she told me that she stopped taking her meds. She said they were making her tired and fat. I told her they could change the meds or change the dose but she didn’t listen. 2 weeks after my nephew’s 1st birthday, she put him down for a nap, got in her car, and shot herself. I’ll never be the same. I’ll never get over it. I’ll never forgive myself for not trying to help her more. She had mental issues before the baby. She should have been more closely monitored but that’s not the way it happened. I started a blog to get my feelings out about all this. I hope it helps someone, anyone.
I experienced PND with both my children and had to spent time in a Mother and baby unit. As you mentioned it should be a time of joy and happiness but this was not to be for me on both occasions. I fought with all my might and thankfully I am fully recovered and now support and help other women and families through their battle.
My wife gave birth to our fifth child (only daughter after four boys) in 1968, at age 35, and was diagnosed with severe depression while still recuperating in the hospital. I don’t recall any foreboding signs during her pregnancy. It took a couple of years of on and off confinement and treatment (EST and prescription meds). The only thing that had concerned me during her pregnancy was her being prescribed so-called “pep pills”. I have no idea if this contributed to the situation.
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