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The Daily Tar Heel

Overdue, but in the lead: Postpartum clinic should be replicated to ensure adequate treatment

For a condition as rampant and debilitating as postpartum depression, proper resources for treatment have been surprisingly lacking. By opening the nation’s first standalone perinatal psychiatry center, UNC Hospitals has set an example to follow for devoting enough to a depression touching one in 10 women after childbirth.

Postpartum depression is a uniquely debilitating form of mental illness. Not only does it strike at a time in a woman’s life that should otherwise be one of her most joyous, it also presents a particularly harrowing dilemma: Should a mother agree to forgo time with her newborn child in hopes that the long-term benefits of seeking psychiatric help will outweigh this immediate sacrifice?
Or should she — as many new mothers do — suffer alone and in silence, often without a formal diagnosis of her illness?

No one should have to make these kinds of choices. This is especially true when such trade-offs are unnecessary, as is the case here. What is needed is relatively simple and yet almost entirely lacking in this country: specialized units in hospitals and health care facilities dedicated solely to the treatment of postpartum depression, allowing mothers and their newborns to be together during treatment. In a normal psychiatric ward, infants cannot visit their mothers, let along spend extended periods of time there.

Other hospitals and schools should look to UNC as it proves not only that this problem can be solved, but also that there is substantial demand for this kind of treatment.

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