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Depression And Childbirth: How You Can Help A Loved One

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. - A mother facing an attempted murder charge in the wake of a Tuesday morning crash in Sioux Falls has put a spotlight on mental health after giving birth. 

"We believe that once the crash had happened, I don't know if she was unconscious for a period or not, but she ended up taking herself and her child out of the car," Sioux Falls Police Public Information Officer Sam Clemens said.

That's how authorities found the mother and baby at the scene. Clemens says Julia Alzoubaidi had had suicidal thoughts. Wednesday night KELOLAND News spoke with Sioux Falls psychologist Susan Eleeson in general about mental health after childbirth. Eleeson has made women's heath a specialty of hers. She says she has treated thousands of women who are dealing with "a postpartum reaction," a term she uses for postpartum depression.

"Childbirth is the peak onset for mood disorders," Eleeson said. "Many people don't know that, and postpartum depression, anxiety, psychosis happen to 15 to 20 percent of women."

If you have a loved one going through this, there's something you can do.

"The first thing you can do, and it's very simple, is you can ask the mom, 'Do you feel like yourself?'" Eleeson said. "Because if they say, 'No I don't feel like myself,' then something's wrong. Do you feel like something isn't right. Yes, I feel that way. So a lot of women will answer if they're asked, but they're not often asked."

Eleeson also stresses to let an expert do their work.

"I really, really caution people, unless you are an expert in postpartum reactions in women, then do not say whether they have it or they don't have it," Eleeson said. "That's when you need to get that checked out."

When it comes to postpartum reaction, she says a big symptom is anxiety. There are resources out there.

"It's really, really important to understand that because pregnancy is natural, people think, 'Oh, it should all be okay,'" Eleeson said. "Well, our hospitals have a whole level of the hospital dedicated to problems."

If you're feeling sad or depressed, there is help out there. Sanford Behavioral Health, Avera Behavioral Health, and the Helpline Center are three local options.

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