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Utah Valley Hospital screens new mothers for postpartum depression

Utah Valley Hospital is taking a proactive approach to diagnosing postpartum depression by screening new mothers.

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Tamara Vaifanua
PROVO, UTAH — Utah Valley Hospital is taking a proactive approach to diagnosing postpartum depression by screening new mothers.

For many women who are struggling with postpartum depression, opening up about it can be difficult.

But a new screening at Utah Valley Hospital could help them feel more comfortable.

Kelby Ellis battled postpartum depression with all five of her children.

"I was having panic attacks. I just felt really uneasy all the time and these are things that I had never experienced before."

The Lehi mother sought help from her doctor, but didn't find answers right away.

"There's such a stigma with mental health anyway and then to have something after you have a baby you don't want anyone to think you're going to endanger your child or you're not able to hack it," said Ellis.

Ellis is applauding a pilot program put in place at Utah Valley University. Six months ago, they began screening all mothers who have recently given birth, for mental illness. Each week, six to ten additional cases have surfaced.

"It`s really helping," said Kerri Abbey, Women's & Children's social worker at Utah Valley Hospital.

She visits with women who have been screened and need additional counseling.

"It`s easy for moms to kinda push it aside and just think that`s what new moms go through. That`s just not the case if you`re suffering from postpartum depression," said Abbey.

If left untreated, Abbey says postpartum depression can worsen.

She educates mothers on treatment options and encourages them to have a strong, emotional support system.

"Allow the patient to know they are there for them. They`re not crazy. They`re not weak. Those are the two biggest things I hear from women."

Through medication, therapy, and a lot of help from family, Ellis has been able to manage her episodes.

"It`s a very scary place to be too because you just wonder is this how my life is going to be like forever. Through getting the right resources, that light at the end of the tunnel starts getting brighter and you start going ok, I can come out from these shadows," said Ellis.

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