Thursday, May 14, 2015

Postpartum Depression a Threat to Utah Moms, Babies


(Salt Lake City, UT)  –   “Anxiety. Rage. Bad Mom. Guilt. Repeat.” “Engulfing fear – desiring my own death.” “Deep, dark, alienating and lonely place.” 

These are just some of the responses from new mothers who were asked to describe their experience with postpartum depression (PPD) in six words. They are heartbreaking, yet illuminating cries for help.

Thursday evening, May 14, the Utah Maternal Mental Health Collaborative (UMMHC) and partners will sponsor a free premiere screening of a revealing new documentary about Pregnancy and Postpartum Depression and Anxiety (PPD), Dark Side of the Full Moon. 

“This is a story that needs to be told,” said Marc Babitz, M.D., Director, UDOH Division of Family Health and Preparedness. “PPD is among the most common complications of childbirth and can affect mothers to the point that they cannot care for their newborns or even themselves,” Babitz added.

A UDOH survey of new moms found that one in seven (13.8 percent) reported experiencing postpartum depression. The condition can impact a mother’s ability to bond with her baby, strain family relationships, lead to long-term mental health issues when untreated, and even affect the newborn’s cognitive development. Suicide remains the second leading cause of death in the first year postpartum. Nationally, an estimated 1.3 million mothers are affected by PPD each year. 

“The prevalence and impact of maternal mood and anxiety disorders is a public health crisis,” says Amy-Rose White, LCSW, Executive Director and founder of the Utah Maternal Mental Health Collaborative. “Every woman deserves to be given information about risk, prevention, and treatment resources at every stage of pregnancy and throughout their child’s first year,” she added. “Also, PPD is a misnomer. It’s really an agitated depression more often experienced as anxiety, irritability, and insomnia. Most moms with severe depression or anxiety are still able take good care of their children, which is why we call them ‘hidden illnesses’. If a mom looks good, often no one knows or asks,” White added.

Dark Side of the Full Moon will premiere at the Salt Lake City Library, 210 East 400 South, Thursday, May 14 promptly at 7 p.m. The 72-minute documentary tells the dramatic, true stories of two mothers who experienced roadblocks to health care. The film confronts the system and explores why so many women fall through the cracks. The film will be followed by a 30-minute community discussion. Nursing babies in arms are welcome. To view a 6-minute trailer, click here. 

Signs and symptoms of pregnancy and postpartum depression include sleep disturbances, feelings of anxiety, anger, irritability, guilt, self-blame and fear. Many women withdraw from family and friends and think about hurting themselves or the baby. Depression or anxiety can be part of other postpartum mental health conditions such as obsessive-compulsive disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder. Children of mothers with PPD can become withdrawn or irritable, display behavioral problems, and have a higher risk of anxiety disorders and major depression in childhood and adolescence. 

Sponsors of Dark Side of the Full Moon are Intermountain Medical Center, The Healing Group, BetterBirth LLC, BirthCare HealthCare, and the Community School of Midwifery. 

Note: The film is intended for mature audiences as there are sensitive scenes that may be upsetting for some viewers.

MEDIA NOTE: Due to Salt Lake City Library scheduling needs, Amy-Rose White and Utah mothers who have experienced postpartum depression will be available for interviews at the Salt Lake City Library prior to the screening from 6:15-6:45 p.m. 

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Media Contact:
Cyndi Bemis, Marketing & Outreach
Pregnancy Risk Line /MotherToBaby
(o) 801-550-4228