Postpartum depression amid the coronavirus pandemic

Being pregnant for the first time or being a first-time mom means a woman will be making a lot of changes. You now have another person’s needs to care for and think about, besides managing your own personal needs.

Plus, when you’re pregnant and after you deliver your baby, your hormone levels are changing. On top of that, many new mothers are unable to get the rest they need to fully recover from giving birth. Constant sleep deprivation can lead to physical discomfort and exhaustion.

For all of these reasons, pregnancy and the postpartum period are a time when women are susceptible to mood disorders like depression and anxiety.

Add to that, the COVID-19 global pandemic, which may increase anxiety and social isolation, and also lead to life stressors like a job change or moving, and that’s a lot of things that can factor into a woman’s mental health. Many women may wonder if their feelings are normal, or if they are just the baby blues, or if they may be experiencing true depression or anxiety.

Jade Elliott talked with Kristy Jones, from Intermountain Healthcare who is a senior consultant for mental well-being and community health, about the behavioral health resources available for pregnant and new moms who are going through all these changes amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Postpatum depression is common

Up to 1 in 7 women experience postpartum depression.

Risk factors for PPD:

  • Previous mental illness or family history of such
  • A stressful life event during pregnancy or soon after birth (job change, moving, divorce, death of a loved one)
  • Traumatic labor and delivery or medical complications of mother or baby
  • Mixed feelings about the pregnancy
  •  Isolation or lack of emotional support from family or friends
  • Alcohol or drug abuse problems

If you have some of these risk factors and are experiencing some mental health symptoms you’re concerned about you can always reach out to your doctor with your concerns. Another great option is the Intermountain Emotional Support Hotline.

The Emotional Health Relief Hotline

  •  It is a free service provided by Intermountain Healthcare to help people in emotional distress and is available from 10 am – 10 pm 7 Days per week
  • Number 833-442-2211
  • People responding to the calls – a great mix of Intermountain Caregivers differing skills such as our Behavioral Health Patient Navigators and COVID Call Center Staff.
  1.  All have been trained
  2. No DX work

 What happens when someone calls in?

  • The caller will be asked predetermined questions that will help to assess their level of needs. Each caller will be triaged as Low, Medium or High need.
  •  If there is a high concern or suicidal concern, there is a “warm” handoff to the U of U University Neuropsychiatric Institute (UNI). This is the same Crisis Line that operates the Utah chapter of the National Suicide Lifeline.
  • Based on the level of need, they may be provided some resource materials, referred to the myStrength App (free for 60 days with code UDHSGuest33), provided resources to connect them to service – or given a warm handoff to a crisis hotline
  • If someone calls the Relief Hotline after hours – it refers those with a high concern to the UNI Crisis line which operates 24 hours a day.

What are some general tips we can provide for being mentally well?

  • stay connected with friends and family through video chats, phone calls and “drive-by” visits
  • Physical activity and exercise can help boost your mood
  •  Reduce Stress and anxiety – ie limit exposure to constant messaging relating to the pandemic, use focused meditation and relaxation, set and keep a schedule or goals for the day
  •  Ask for help when needed – call the Emotional Health Relief Hotline, reach out to a friend or family member, see your provider via telehealth / video visit.

    The Baby Your Baby program provides many resources for all pregnant women and new moms in Utah. There is also expert advice from the Utah Department of Health and Intermountain Healthcare that air each week on KUTV 2News.