SSRI Ed note: New mom given antidepressants becomes "cold and emotionless", stops them, gets therapy, all is well, now campaigns for other moms to get help not meds.

Original article no longer available

Gloucester Live

09:00 – 19 December 2007

A Year ago, Zoe Hicks couldn’t look her baby daughter in the eye. The 28-year-old suffered severe post-natal depression following the premature birth of Izzy and was afraid to even touch her.

Doctors prescribed her anti-depressants but the drugs left her feeling cold and emotionless.

But thanks to a 12-month course of therapy, she can now hug and kiss her beautiful daughter like any proud mother.

Zoe, who lives in Evesham, is fighting the Government to get more help for new mothers.

The mum-of-two says she only got help after she volunteered to appear on TV documentary Help Me Love My Baby.

The TV show gave her 12 months’ therapy from Dr Amanda Jones at the Anna Freud Institute and filmed her progress.

Zoe said the counselling and advice changed her life and she’s keen for other mums to get the same support on the NHS.

Now she’s setting up a petition to call for therapy to be made more readily available to everyone.

Zoe said: “I think if I’d have just taken the antidepressants I would have been on them for the rest of my life which funding-wise would cost more than therapy.

“People who go to their doctor don’t seem to be offered anything other than antidepressants – you have to ask for an alternative which is difficult when you are so depressed and feel like there is no other option.”

Her daughter Izzy was born prematurely during a traumatic labour. It left Zoe emotionally numb and for six months she often left her lying alone on the floor.

Zoe was afraid to touch her for fear of bringing up a needy child. But the lack of affection made Izzy an unhappy baby who avoided looking at her mum.

After therapy their relationship has transformed.

Gone are the blank, angry stares and fear of motherhood from Zoe. They have been replaced by genuine love and affection.

And Zoe realises every time her daughter cries it isn’t because she is angry with her or a failure as a mother.

The pair now have a strong bond and Zoe completely credits the therapy.

She said: “I feel like a different person. When I watched the documentary I just kept thinking how lovely Izzy looked. During the process I felt the change within myself. The therapy was a long process with lots of little milestones.

“If I hadn’t had it I would never have realised she wouldn’t look at me – it was something I didn’t know was happening. When it was pointed out it was such a big thing.

“I’m really pleased I took part.”

A friend told her she would have loved Izzy eventually but Zoe thinks without the therapy it may never have happened.

She said: “Now I have such a nice bond and it’s more precious.

“I was recently sat holding her, looking at her hair, and I burst into tears because I thought ‘I can’t believe I didn’t feel this about you’.”