Postpartum depression affects 10 to 15% of women in the nation, according to Intermountain Healthcare. Clinicians in Southern Utah created a new support group to help moms, sensing a strong need in the community.
“For me, it was wanting to pack my bags and run away,” said Washington City resident Shyann Brown.
Brown suffered from postpartum depression with each of her three children. She said she felt overwhelmed with the pressures of a new baby and lack of sleep.
“I didn’t ever want to leave the house,” Brown said. “I felt like it was just too much hassle.”
Brown said having a strong support network of family and friends helped her symptoms improve over time. She said the new support group at Intermountain Healthcare in St. George is a great way to help new moms cope.
“We didn’t know of anything available in the community and had heard through several sources that there was a dire need,” said Intermountain Healthcare nurse practitioner Melissa Sorenson.
The support group meets every Thursday at 5:30 p.m. at Intermountain Psychiatry and Counseling in St. George and aims to be a place where moms can go and not feel judged.
“Moms have been too afraid to even come into the building for the support group,” Sorensen said. “They’ve driven here and felt they were going to be judged.”
“They feel like they’re bad moms,” Intermountain Healthcare clinical social worker Gayla Reinhardt said. “We reassure them that they’re not bad moms.”
Women suffering from postpartum depression may deal with frequent crying, lack of appetite, trouble sleeping, and feelings of guilt or worthlessness, according to Intermountain Healthcare.
“No woman should ever feel embarrassed or ashamed, as it’s a hormone imbalance,” Intermountain Healthcare nurse practitioner Carol Graff said. “You add on a new baby and lack of sleep and stressors and it can just make that much worse.”
With the support group, clinicians at Intermountain Healthcare hope to erase the stigma with postpartum depression.
“They’re usually crying when they come in and smiling when they leave,” said Reinhardt.
Reinhardt said the support group is free and they will add as many sessions as needed for the community.
If you have any questions or would like more information about the support group, contact Intermountain Psychiatry and Counseling at 435-251-5900.
According to a fact sheet for patients and families at Intermountain Healthcare, postpartum depression symptoms include:
- Feelings of sadness that last most of the day
- Frequent crying
- Lack of appetite
- Trouble sleeping
- Severe tiredness or wanting to sleep all the time
- Feelings of guilt or worthlessness
- Loss of interest in people and activities
- Trouble concentrating
- Negative feelings about the baby
- Thoughts of hurting yourself or the baby
- Intense anger, anxiety, or irritability
- Feeling confused, seeing or hearing things that aren’t there, or having thoughts that don’t make sense
Intermountain Healthcare suggests the following ways to take care of yourself during this time:
- Stay close to people who can support you. Don’t shut out concerned family and friends. Talk to them about how you’re feeling. Let them help in practical ways. If you know other new moms, get together and share your experiences.
- Don’t be alone. If your depressions symptoms are severe, ask a family member or friend to stay with you if your partner has to go to work.
- Try to get some physical activity every day. For example, taking a walk outdoors with your baby can help your mood. (If you have other children, ask someone to watch them while you get some exercise.)
- Take it easy on yourself. Don’t worry about getting everything done. It’s okay to lower your expectations and it’s okay to ask for help.
- Try to get enough sleep. If you’re having trouble sleeping, take a nap while your baby is asleep. If you have other children, it may help to have someone watch them so you get some sleep while the baby sleeps.