Postpartum depression: You’re not alone

By Regence
May 03, 2023
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Dear new parents, it’s okay if you’re feeling depressed

Parenthood can be a journey that challenges you, changes you and fills you with a depth of love that you never thought possible. However, it can also come with feelings of inadequacy and thoughts that others can “parent” better. Maternal mental health refers to the emotional and mental well-being of a person during pregnancy and up to the first year after giving birth. It includes a range of mental health conditions that can range from mild mood changes to severe mental health disorders.

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Maternal mental health issues are more common than people might think. Up to 80% of parents experience the baby blues, which is a short period of time after giving birth where one can swing from feeling happy one minute to sad and crying the next. These symptoms typically go away on their own in a couple weeks. Other issues, like postpartum depression, last significantly longer and symptoms feel more intense. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in eight women experience symptoms of depression after giving birth.

“Depression can be difficult to manage, and new parents need to know they’re not alone,” said Dr. Nicole Saint Clair, executive medical director at Regence. “It helps to have support during and after pregnancy because their experience is valid. Feeling depressed doesn’t make them a ‘bad’ parent.”

Postpartum depression is one of the most common maternal mental health issues, and its symptoms can include feelings of sadness, hopelessness, guilt and irritability. Anxiety disorders can also arise, which can cause constant worry, fear and panic attacks. Other types of maternal mental health issues include post-traumatic stress disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder and postpartum psychosis.

“It's important to pay attention to maternal mental health because it can have significant impacts on the parent’s ability to bond with their child, care for themself and make parenting decisions,” said Dr. Saint Clair. “Early intervention and treatment can make a significant difference.”

Partners, family members and friends can provide support to parents who experience mental health issues. They can offer practical assistance, such as help with household tasks or childcare, as well as emotional support by listening, offering encouragement and validating the person's experiences. They can also assist in finding professional help and encouraging the parent to prioritize self-care. If you or someone you know is experiencing maternal mental health symptoms, consider seeking help from a health care professional.

We’re here to help

If you or your loved one needs emotional support or mental health care, we can help you find the behavioral health care option that fits your needs. Most of our health plans offer virtual mental health treatment options from providers such as AbleTo Therapy+, Doctor on Demand, Talkspace, Charlie Health and more. No referral is needed – you can visit the provider website and fill out their intake form for an appointment. 

In addition to the broad range of traditional and virtual mental health providers, most Regence members have access to specialized behavioral health care for those seeking help for eating disorders (Equip) and obsessive-compulsive disorders (nOCD). 

Regence also offers access to traditional and virtual substance use disorder treatment providers such as Boulder Care, Eleanor Health (WA only) and Hazelden Betty Ford. If your employer has an employee assistance program (EAP), your use of the program is confidential and at low or no cost. 

We encourage you to visit these providers’ websites or call our customer service team at the number listed on your member ID card to verify which virtual care and traditional behavioral health options are available through your health plan. 

Remember 988 – the new National Suicide & Crisis Lifeline. When people call, text, or chat 988, they will be connected to trained counselors who will listen, understand how their problems are affecting them, provide support, and connect them to resources if needed.