Battling post-partum depression

(Source: NBC)
(Source: NBC)

CHAPEL HILL, NC (NBC) - Amy Martin is the proud mother of three children.  Her youngest, Avery, is 2.

She'd had the baby blues with her first two kids, anxiety and sadness typically explained by exhaustion and hormonal changes common in new mothers.

But the day she brought little Avery home from the hospital she says she "felt like the world was coming to an end."

Amy was suffering from severe Post-Partum Depression.

She was admitted to a pilot in-patient program at the University of North Carolina that caters to new mothers coping with the disorder.

"They're not able to get through their activities of daily living. They are often having thoughts of wanting to die or having active thoughts of hurting themselves or thoughts of hurting the baby," explains Dr. Samantha Meltzer-Brody.

The UNC program is one of a kind in this country, but was based on models used in Europe and Australia for decades.

"Our goal was to create a mother-baby unit that would provide state of the art most holistic care to moms during this vulnerable time," Dr. Meltzer-Brody says.

Treatments can include medication, behavioral therapy, art, yoga -- anything that can encourage mothers to bond with their babies and cope after they get home.

The program has grown since opening in 2008 and is now inundated with calls from across the country as more and more struggling mothers speak up.

Martin says the program gave her the building blocks to get back on her feet as a mom.

"I figured, you know, I can give up two weeks with them to get better to spend my life taking care of them," she says.

The doctors at UNC and many like them nationwide use the "Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale" to help determine the severity of post-partum depression.

It's a quiz women can take and score in the privacy of their home.  Click here to take the quiz.

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