Tuesday, May 9, 2023
May is Mental Health Awareness Month, we recognize the importance of monitoring the mental health of new and expectant mothers, particularly for postpartum mood disorders. Identifying whether it's a case of "baby blues" that will pass on its own or a perinatal mood disorder can be challenging but crucial.
Dyanna Hicks, a registered nurse at Norman Regional Health System, recently shared her personal experience with postpartum depression. Read her story and remember, you are not alone! If you are a new mother or pregnant in Oklahoma and are struggling with feelings of sadness, worry or anxiety, call or text the Maternal Mental Health Hotline at (833) 943-5746.
Seven years ago, Dyanna Hicks welcomed her first child. While overjoyed with her new addition, Hicks also struggled with what she would later find out was postpartum depression. She is not alone. According to the National Library of Medicine, around one in seven women can develop postpartum depression (PPD).
"I had zero knowledge about postpartum complications relating to mental health. I began demonstrating behavior that I eventually discovered was abnormal. I cried, a lot. I felt weak. I felt defeated. I couldn't tell anyone around me, because I thought they would look down on me. I started to worry excessively," Hicks said.
"I would worry so much, I wasn't sleeping. I was terrified of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and had convinced myself that something would happen to my daughter if I fell asleep. So, I stayed awake. I watched her like a hawk. How do I keep this tiny little human alive when there is so much to worry about?"
Hicks did not immediately seek treatment for her feelings. "I remember the morning I went to a postpartum appointment and I felt sick to my stomach in anticipation of them asking me questions about my mental health. I knew deep down that something was wrong. I couldn't even tell my husband my true thoughts, so why would I confide in my doctor? The nurse began taking my vital signs and asking routine questions, when all of a sudden she asks, "Do you have any signs or symptoms of postpartum depression?" I immediately thought to myself, well, I don't want to hurt my daughter, so no."
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Signs of Postpartum Depression
The signs include:
- Crying more often than usual.
- Feelings of anger.
- Withdrawing from loved ones.
- Feeling numb or disconnected from your baby.
- Worrying that you will hurt the baby.
- Feeling guilty about not being a good mom or doubting your ability to care for the baby.
"It took me weeks to muster up the courage to go to a support group I found online, but I knew I needed to address what was going on with me," Hicks said.
"I also started attending one-on-one therapy when I moved to Oklahoma the year after my daughter was born. After my first session, I drove home looking at the beautiful green grass and began to cry because I finally felt a sense of hope," Hicks said.
It's important to remember that depression is treatable, and most people get better with treatment. If you think you may be depressed, the first step to seeking treatment is to talk to your healthcare provider.
"Once I was able to get into a better place, I began to discover my passion for the nursing profession. I had never felt that drive for anything else before in my life. My therapist also allowed me opportunities to get involved and speak out about my own experiences, hoping it would help other women," Hicks said.
"I have become very open about my own experiences with perinatal mood disorders over the years. During nursing school, I spoke to my class and professors about my journey and how it led me to finding a purpose from the pain."
The Oklahoma State Department of Health has a Postpartum Plan that moms can fill out to share their needs with family and friends to help them feel more confident and prepared before the baby arrives.
988 Lifeline Chat and Text
Lifeline Chat and Text is a service of the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline (formerly known as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline), connecting individuals with crisis counselors for emotional support and other services via web chat or texting 988.
All chat and text centers in the Lifeline network are accredited by either the American Association of Suicidology or the International Council for Helplines. Lifeline Chat and Text is available 24/7 across the U.S. and certain territories.
Norman Regional Mental Health Services
At Norman Regional, our skilled staff helps people who are having problems with pressure and stress. Norman Regional Behavioral Medicine Services has provided professional, confidential care to the community since 1985.
Sharing the mission and vision of Norman Regional Health System, our goal in Behavioral Medicine is to provide a multidisciplinary, team approach to ensure our patients receive the most effective care. Our board-eligible and certified psychiatrists, psychologists, psychiatric social workers, licensed professional counselors, and registered nurses are here for you.
Norman Regional Behavioral Medicine's staff of caring professionals is here to help. Call us.
24-Hour Information & Referral
Norman Regional's New Behavioral Health Center
Norman Regional Health System and Oceans Healthcare are teaming up to launch a new Behavioral Health Center at Porter Health Village in Norman, Oklahoma.
The new facility will expand behavioral health services in south-central Oklahoma, boasting state-of-the-art facilities and doubling Norman Regional's inpatient capacity for adult and senior behavioral health patients to 48 beds.
Additionally, the joint venture partnership will introduce new services such as an intensive outpatient program and a dedicated geriatric behavioral health unit. The center will be located at 901 N. Porter Ave., at the southern end of the Norman Regional Porter campus, close to Sonic.