One Los Angeles parent who says a sudden, unexpected depression nearly cost her her life has created a local group to help other parents.
Kimberly Wong, 42, a lawyer and legislative policy advisor to the Los Angeles County public defender, says she'd always been on an even keel emotionally until the birth of her daughter in May 2003.
"I was crying hysterically. I wanted to end my life. I could not eat, could not sleep — it was like I was pumped full of cocaine, with a racing heart," she recalls. Wong had two psychiatric hospital commitments within 3 1/2 weeks. Medication for six months helped her to make what she terms "a very slow climb out" to mental health. A network of family and friends, along with a nanny, took good care of her daughter, Wong says.
This experience spurred her to found the Los Angeles County Perinatal Mental Health Task Force three years ago. It's a volunteer network that has raised awareness about depression during pregnancy and the postpartum year by co-sponsoring a national conference in L.A. last August. The group also is training varied workers who have contact with families about the issue of depression and has plans for a pilot program to screen women for depression and link them with needed family services.
Here are other resources with information on depression and how to reduce the effect of a parent's depression on children:
• http://www.apa.org: The American Psychological Assn. offers good information on depression, plus therapist referrals.
• http://www.familyaware.org: Families for Depression Awareness is a nonprofit education, support and advocacy group that helps families battling depression.
• http://www.postpartum.net: The nonprofit group Postpartum Support International offers facts, local resources and support groups.
• http://www.postpartumhealth.com: A website from Tarzana therapist Diana Barnes, with resources, groups and classes.
• http://www.shareselfhelp.org: A clearinghouse for depression support groups funded by the L.A. County Department of Mental Health and private donations.