Shannon Otto is a busy wife, mom and speech therapist. She doesn’t really have time for depression. And yet, that is exactly what she fights every day.
“For years, I was on an emotional roller coaster that I had no control over,” says Shannon. “When I was in college and graduate school, various doctors would prescribe different medications, but my depression never really disappeared. It took a crisis and someone asking the right questions to help me get on the right track.”
Shannon says her obstetrician at Swedish First Hill, Diana Koala, M.D., is the first person who saved her life. Shannon’s first son was born six weeks premature and with several medical conditions. With a baby who wasn’t sleeping and her past history of depression, Shannon slowly slipped into mild post-partum depression. Dr. Koala, who was very familiar with Shannon’s medical history, prescribed a low-dose anti-depressant, which Shannon took until she became pregnant with her second child.
“Although I knew the medication was safe for me and my baby, I just didn’t want to take any chances, so I stopped taking it,” says Shannon. “But after my baby was born, I once again began that gradual slide into post-partum depression. This time it was much more severe. My husband, who had never been exposed to mental illness, was so busy being both mom and dad to our two boys as I became more and more depressed and withdrawn from life that he didn’t know what to do to help me.”
Shannon was fortunate. Her aunt and a college friend came to visit and recognized what was going on. They called Shannon’s mom, who flew into town the next day. Together, they convinced Shannon to take her medicine and to call for an appointment with a psychiatrist on staff at The Lytle Center for Pregnancy & Newborns at Swedish. Shannon credits this psychiatrist, Catherine Davies, M.D., for saving her life a second time.
“After the most thorough evaluation I had ever had, Dr. Davies diagnosed me with borderline personality disorder,” says Shannon. “Something no one else had mentioned. She also found the right medication that worked well for me and prescribed dialectical behavior therapy to help me recognize and change my emotions, giving me the tools I need to cope with the stresses that would otherwise send me into deep depression. And, she recommended a post-partum doula to help sleep train my children. All of a sudden I had hope.”
Dr. Koala was able to refer Shannon was able to access the care she needed because donations from our community made the resources she needed available within the Lytle Center.
“Therapy has given me the tools I need to monitor, analyze, control and change my emotions,” says Shannon. “I now have a roadmap for dealing with my depression and a concrete set of steps that I can follow to keep me on the path to enjoying and participating in life.”
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