Utah mom says mothers need to seek help with depression, anxiety

EAGLE MOUNTAIN, Utah About 15-20% of women experience more severe symptoms of depression or anxiety during or after pregnancy than the average woman. This is second International postpartum support. While these feelings can be overwhelming, experts want women to know that effective treatment options are available. An Eagle Mountain mother shares her story for Healthy Mind Matters.

Because Kristin Arnold being a mom was always in the plans.

“Being a pediatric nurse, I was like, Oh, I get it! I’m ready to have a child, she remembers. We were just thrilled to have our little girl here.

But suffering from perinatal mood and anxiety disorders wasn’t in her plans.

“I wasn’t prepared for the symptoms that just came on really, really hard and fast which for me included depression, anxiety, OCD and bipolar symptoms,” Arnold explained.

Despite reaching out, Arnold didn’t get the help she needed until her daughter was five months old. Eventually, he found an intensive outpatient program designed specifically for mothers.

    Kristin Arnold

Kristin Arnold is the mother of three children, Evelyn (Age 6), Kelvin (Age 2) and Kaladin (Age 1). After the birth of each of her children, Arnold struggled with perinatal mood disorders and anxiety. She found help through an intensive outpatient program, medications and a virtual support group of women with similar symptoms who gave her the strength to keep going. (KSLTV)

“Which put me in touch with a psychiatrist and a therapist who were both specifically trained to work with moms and there was also a women’s support group that really helped me,” she said.

Knowing she wasn’t alone was powerful. “Then would anyone else be like, Oh, you too?! I thought I thought I was the only one hearing that,” Arnold of the virtual support group described him.

She says getting the right care from someone who specializes in maternal mental health is key.

Within two weeks, he found me the medication I needed and I started feeling better, Arnold said. It’s really important to find those resources of providers, therapists, and people specifically trained to deal with perinatal mood and anxiety disorders.

The symptoms returned when Kristen had her second child, and again when she became pregnant with her third.

She had just turned one and I found out I was pregnant, even though I had an IUD, Arnold said. It was a very stressful time for me.”

Her baby also had to be in the NICU after the birth, which only added to her stress. Thanks to the support Arnold already had in place, she made it through this difficult time. I had that support group and felt so much more supported than after my first child was born,” he told her.

Jamie Hales is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Program Manager for THE Huntsman Mental Health Institute Maternal Mental Health Service, and member of the PSI board of directors. He says starting the conversation is sometimes the hardest part. She tells women to see their primary care doctor, obstetrician, or even pediatrician.

“Making sure you’re not afraid to speak up and say, you know, hey, I’m having such a hard time right now. I don’t know if this is normal. I don’t really feel like myself, she said.

If you experience feelings of sadness or anxiety beyond the first two weeks after giving birth, encourage the women to get in touch.

When we start to worry a little is when the depression or anxiety really lingers in the past, Hales explained. If you’re seeing someone who isn’t really sleeping, he’s having trouble taking care of his basic needs.

Hales says prioritizing self-care is not selfish and will allow you to take better care of your child. “If we’re not taking care of ourselves, it’s really hard to make sure our cup gets filled up so we can actually do it for them,” she explained.

While sleep is hard to come by as a new parent, Hales says new parents should aim to get four to six hours of uninterrupted sleep each night. If this isn’t possible on their own, he urges moms to rely on outside support systems like family and friends.

Encourage family members to check in on new parents as well. “It’s good to ask, I really like to ask, Hey, how are you? because that attention very often goes to the child and we forget about the parents,” she said.

Hales says a personal history of depression, anxiety, or bipolar disorder before pregnancy may be a risk factor for experiencing perinatal mood disorders. She says there is also a genetic component to experiencing these diseases and encourages women to be aware of their family history.

Arnold encourages other women not to give up.

“You are not weak. You don’t have a personality defect, you’re not a needy person, your brain just isn’t working the way it should, whether it’s because of hormones, stress, lack of sleep or anything else you experience as a mom,” she said.

Kristin Arnold became pregnant with her youngest child, Kaladin Arnold, when her second child was just one year old, despite having an IUD. The surprise pregnancy aggravated with Kaladin requiring time in the NICU after her birth brought with it further stress. When Arnold felt the same symptoms of perinatal mood disorders and anxiety again, she luckily already had systems in place from her previous births that helped her through it. Photo credit: Kristin Arnold

Despite his grief, Arnold says his life is now everything it once could only imagine it was.

“There was a time when I felt so down and didn’t really feel like I wanted to move forward,” she said. “And I had these visions in my mind of what our future might look like as my son playing soccer with my daughter in the backyard and doing things like that, and the other day, I saw some of those things happen and I was like, oh my god we did it!

And it’s much better. I never thought my life would be so amazing,” Arnold added.

This Saturday June 24thth, Arnold volunteers at the Climb Out of Darkness walk hosted by the Postpartum Support International Utah Chapter in Wheeler Park from 9:30am to 1:30pm. It’s a family-friendly event with fun activities like face painting and food trucks, and will give women the chance to connect with local resources.

Visit maternalmentalhealth.utah.gov to find help in your neighborhood or check it out International postpartum support.

THE Huntsman Mental Health Institute it also offers specialist outpatient services, inpatient services and an outpatient support program for mothers. Call 801-585-1565 for more information.

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Image Source : ksltv.com

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