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Postpartum depression or anxiety impacts 43% of Utah moms study says

Some of the latest information about postpartum depression from the State of Utah shows that 43% women who had a live birth between 2017 and 2019 experienced postpartum depression. Photo: Canva

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — The Utah Department of Health, UDOH,  has released a new report on postpartum depression which shows that nearly 43% of Utah moms who had recently given birth were affected by depression and anxiety.

The report looked at women who’d given live birth between 2017 and 2019.

“Of those, 18.4% had depression before pregnancy, 26.7% had anxiety before pregnancy, 18.4% had depression during pregnancy, 25.9% had anxiety during pregnancy, and 14.8% reported symptoms of postpartum depression,” the report states.

Importance of mental health screening

According to the YWCA Utah, the same report highlighted the importance of screening for mental health before, during, and after pregnancy. They said it found that only 44% of the study’s participants had been screened for depression before pregnancy.

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The report comes during Maternal Mental Health Awareness month in Utah, which was declared recently by Gov. Spencer Cox.

On a call to announce the proclamation as well as the health department’s findings, Utah First Lady, Abby Palmer Cox spoke out about her experience with postpartum issues.

“With the third baby it was something that hit me really hard, and frankly, I didn’t know what it was. I didn’t have the language for it,” she said.

Emily Cook Dyches and postpartum depression

Mrs. Cox said she was largely able to get help after hearing the story of another Utah mom, Emily Cook Dyches who lost her life to postpartum anxiety five years ago. 

“Within days of her passing we had several moms reach out to us and tell us that because they heard Emily’s story they decided to reach out and get help,” said Megan Johnson, Emily’s sister.

Johnson and her family have since started the non-profit called The Emily Effect.

Getting help in Utah for postpartum depression

Along with The Emily Effect and YWCA Utah, the state of Utah has a website to help moms find doctors, therapists, and support groups. In addition, the YWCA Utah lists several groups they’ve joined forces with to help raise awareness and provide support to women in Utah.

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Those include Voices for Utah Children, the Utah Department of Health including the maternal Mental Health Committee of the Utah Women and Newborns Quality Collaborative, American Academy of Pediatrics, Utah Chapter, Postpartum Support International- Utah Chapter, Utah Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health, the Early Childhood Alliance, the University of Utah and Intermountain Healthcare.

Most of those groups were represented on today’s call, as well as state lawmakers like Representative Jen Daily-Provost who has worked on funding for maternal mental health programs in the state.