A Mental Ward Is No Place For Moms With Postpartum Depression

Want to know what kind of treatment Hollywood actress Hayden Panettiere is getting in postpartum depression (PPD) rehab? I imagine it’s not a vacation but a pretty swank treatment centre where Hayden entered for a second time to deal with PPD late last week.

Last Friday, I fantasized about what PPD rehab could look like, having gone through PPD myself twice and getting sub-par treatment.

It was meant to be tongue-in-cheek, and for the most part moms got it, but there were some who took issue with my apparent lack of comedy skills thinking I was shaming Hayden for her privileged access.

Au contraire, mon frère.

While the U.S. entertainment media is respecting Hayden’s privacy only saying she’s staying at a centre somewhere in Utah, I bet you what’s being offered there is a PPD mom’s wet dream. And I’m not talking about a leaky diaper.

No, it’s probably not a dedicated PPD rehab facility, and no, Ryan Gosling probably doesn’t work there, but I bet it’s pretty luxurious and probably boasts a sauna, gym, salon, and massage and meditation rooms.

The meals are probably made from scratch by culinary chefs and there’s probably all kinds of wonderful things like yoga, horse therapy and art therapy along with your standard cognitive behavioural therapy. I bet it’s an ideal place to heal and recover.

We can only dream of a place where professionals wait on us hand and foot, helping us to get through one of the most trying times of our lives while taking care of a baby.

Now, compare that to a psych ward, where moms with the most severe kind of PPD reluctantly end up for treatment. The mental ward is no place for a mom with PPD. All it is is a different wing of your regular, loud, noisy, busy hospital complete with fluorescent lighting, uncomfortable bed, interesting roommates and you know what kind of food.

But what choice do they have?

And what about the rest of us with mild to moderate PPD, which in my case included derealization, terror, panic attacks and intrusive thoughts? We can only dream of a place where professionals wait on us hand and foot, helping us to get through one of the most trying times of our lives while taking care of a baby.

Let me make it abundantly clear. I’m not criticizing Hayden at all. I’m praising her for not only speaking up about her struggles with PPD, but for igniting a larger conversation about PPD treatment whether she intended to or not.

In her words, PPD has “impacted every aspect of her life” and she has “chosen to take time to reflect holistically” on health and life.

She’s absolutely right. PPD does impact every aspect of life — physically, mentally and emotionally, all of which take a toll on the other aspects of life — relationships, finances and career. I know this all too well.

A five-minute visit with the family doctor and a prescription just doesn’t cut it. It’s not like you go home, take the pill and you’re fine. It takes four to six weeks for the medication to start working and all moms can do in the meantime is wait and continue to suffer at home, sometimes barely making it through the day. If you’re lucky enough to get on a short wait list and see a psychiatrist who can provide evidence-based therapy by the time your PPD is over, then you’re one of the lucky ones.

Unless you have money, of course.

Which brings us back to PPD rehab.

I can’t think of anything better to help moms who are severely suffering than a dedicated facility.

I’m not saying we need helicopter rides, but we damn well need more than we have right now. We need screening, monitoring, therapy, child care and home care.

And why not add PPD rehab to that list? I can’t think of anything better to help moms who are severely suffering than a dedicated facility that provides her with the rest, proper nutrition and treatment she needs to recover with baby in tow.

Think I’m nuts for dreaming of such a place and having it fully covered?

Think again.

St. John’s Rehab in Toronto provides patients recovering from life-changing illness or injury with “individually customized inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation services that focus on the whole person — mind, body and spirit.” Their wellness program provides acupuncture, chiropody, chiropractic, massage therapy and aquatic treatment.

As one patient who stayed at St. John’s after hip replacement surgery notes in an online review of St. John’s: “I feel both privileged and thankful to have been in such good hands.”

And another: “It was a great experience and great support program. The nurses took such good care of their patients and they even gave me double portions. I still managed to lose 5 pounds lol.”

Now that’s what I’m talking about.

A PPD rehab and weight loss clinic.

Just kidding.

Not really.

The point is, PPD rehab isn’t a pipe dream. It can happen. All we need are moms willing to stand up and fight for it.

Think about your daughters and granddaughters.

Who’s with me?


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