Partnership aims for earlier help for postpartum depression

TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Kali Mulanax loves being a mom to her nearly year-old daughter Adleigh.

"It was more than I ever thought it would be," she said.

Which was both good, and bad.

"I realized how quickly you get tired!" Kali laughs.

But it was more than that. A pregnancy that ended in bed rest, and an unplanned c-section three weeks early was catching up with her.

"I had a lot of anxiety attacks. I had a lot of outbursts at home that my husband was picking up on, and I just started to realize those events are not how I would actually act normally," she said.

Ashley Patrick, LSCSW, with Stormont Vail Behavioral Health in Topeka, says it is easy for new moms to feel overwhelmed - and feel guilty about it.

"You go home and, 'This is the best time of my life. Okay. Sure.' And then you don't sleep for a week, and you don't remember the last time you took a shower," she said.

Patrick says postpartum depression can affect up to 20 percent of new moms.

"Postpartum depression can be on the low range of anxiety and depression, to the high range of feeling that I might harm myself, or feeling like I might harm my baby," Patrick said. "Obviously we don't want anybody to ever have those thoughts or have to through that, so the sooner that we can address it, the more we can control those symptoms."

Helping women find help earlier is why Lincoln Center OB/GYN recently partnered with Stormont, to have a behavioral health counselor on-site. If a woman raises a concern with her doctor, she can make contact with Patrick before she leaves, or call anytime - rather than wait for a referral. If they're made to wait, Patrick said, families may not follow through.

Patrick's main advice to parents is to accept help, and listen to people around you.

"If you identify a problem, or better yet if your spouse or a friend or a family member (says) 'Hey, this is kind of an issue. Let's take care of this.' We can fix it. We can work with it," she said.

With her husband's support, Kali sought counseling.

" Hearing that from other moms who appear on the outside like they have everything together but on the inside they struggle as well with some things - it made me not feel alone," she said.

Now, her life has a lot more smiles - from everyone.

"I just want to be able to help others realize that this can be an issue and not to be afraid of it," Kali said. "I feel like my family is happy again."

Patrick also can help families dealing with fertility, infant loss, or pregnancy issues. She also reminds parents that dads can suffer symptoms, too.

Her office in Lincoln Center is for Lincoln Center patients only. However, anyone who needs help is urged to reach out to a place, such as Stormont Vail Behavioral Health.