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Man Is Helping Mothers With Postpartum Depression After His Own Wife Died by Suicide

Man Is Helping Mothers With Postpartum Depression After His Own Wife Died by Suicide

Steven D'Achille has opened a treatment center that has helped 6,000 mothers deal with postpartum depression.

Trigger Warning: This story discusses depression and suicide that may be disturbing to readers.

Steven D'Achille, 39, from Pittsburgh suffered a great loss after his wife died by suicide on October 10, 2013. Alexis, 30 had been battling severe postpartum depression and psychosis for weeks after giving birth to her daughter, reports PEOPLE.

The couple sought care at seven different hospitals and clinics in the 15 days leading up to Alexis' death. They were turned away each time. Since that sad day, D'Achille has been driven to channel his pain into assisting new mothers who, like Alexis, are suffering and unable to obtain the support they require. D'Achille says, "Alexis knew she was in trouble. She was abundantly clear with what she was scared would happen. But it was always, 'Go home. You're not crazy.'"



 

 

D'Achille says that it was love at first sight for the couple and they got married in 2009. The pregnancy was smooth Alexis "was radiant and all the things you hear about pregnant women," he remembers. Their daughter, Adriana, was born healthy on August 30, 2010.

However, during delivery, Adriana's umbilical cord had become wrapped multiple times around her neck—a frightening "code blue". This trigged postpartum depression, including suicidal thoughts and hallucinations, and then postpartum psychosis, a rare and little-known mental illness that was likely related to Alexis's family history of bipolar disorder.

D'Achille says, "My wife believed that her first act of being a mother was damaging her daughter." Alexis' obstetrician recommended antidepressants, but her problems continued. According to D'Achille, she has trouble sleeping as she heard phantom baby cries in the middle of the night. She lost around 50 lbs. in five and a half weeks.

D'Achille sensed something terrible had happened when he heard his infant daughter crying and realized his wife was not with the baby. He discovered that Alexis had attempted suicide and two days later, she died in the ICU leaving her small family behind.

D'Achille established the Alexis Joy D'Achille Foundation shortly after her death to promote awareness and finances for others suffering from prenatal anxiety and mood disorders. Subsequently, in 2018, with the support of the Allegheny Health Network, he established the Alexis Joy D'Achille Center for Perinatal Mental Health at West Penn Hospital in Pittsburgh. It provides counseling and childcare services to pregnant women, new mothers, and their families, among other things and has helped 6,00 women until now.


 

Alexis's story, sadly, is not uncommon. Postpartum depression affects one out of every eight new mothers in the United States, according to CDC. This frequently expresses rage, detachment from loved ones, and difficulties with mother-child bonding. However, there is a huge stigma attached to it where mothers aren't even able to express their grief. There is an immediate need to destigmatize postpartum depression. 

Steven has made it his duty to do so in honor of Alexis. He intends to assist in the establishment of other centers around the country and collaborates closely with the website MyCheckOnMom.com. He doesn't want his wife's death to account for nothing.

References:

https://people.com/health/one-dads-mission-to-help-moms-with-postpartum-depression-after-his-wifes-death-by-suicide-its-my-therapy/

https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/69/wr/mm6919a2.htm?s_cid=mm6919a2_w

https://www.ahn.org/services/womens-health/behavioral-health/alexis-joy-dachille-center-for-perinatal-mental-health

https://www.alexisjoyfoundation.org

Cover Image Source: Getty Images/Vera Livchak