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Postpartum Depression: A Message of Hope

Postpartum Depression: A Message of Hope

mom baby

We continue our conversation with Eric Dyches, founder of the Emily Effect, about ending the stigma of postpartum depression. It may be difficult to open up, but there is help for women suffering from postpartum depression. Dyches had a message of hope for the community.

What message of hope would you share with moms?

I've talked to dozens if not hundreds of moms who had similar situations. You have this experience, something goes on and then you work through it. And you're able to experience wellness again and I think one of the messages that I would share, and I've shared this widely, and I want to continue to share this message. The experience Emily had does not have to be your experience or other moms. 

Emily’s tragic experience the last day of her life, I want it to be motivating for moms to seek treatment, but I don't want them to think that that is going to be their end. And it doesn't have to be their end and that's why I'm so outspoken about all of this. Having to tell my kids that their mom wasn't coming home was pretty challenging and I never want to have a dad have to do that. It's the hardest thing I've ever had to do and that's why we're going to continue the message. So, moms feel like they have a voice and it's safe to be able to share the way they're feeling. 

We as stakeholders in the community need to take note that the resources have not been good enough. The care has been there, but the link to managing our resources has not been there. But I'm seeing this major quick shift in the state of Utah, that so many people have attached onto Emily's story to become motivated to try to make change in their little sphere, their little world. And the aggregate change is being seen state wide, and it's so powerful, but we'll continue the message. We'll continue to share her story and meet with people that care and want to make a difference.


Is it hard from women to seek help because they don't want to bring up postpartum depression?

Exactly and let's just say, moms if you have an intrusive thought; it's okay. It's okay, verbalize it to somebody. It's when moms have these thoughts and they don't verbalize it, that's when it can manifest in cycles.

If not, it just can build on top of each other. Like a snowball. Seek professional help, or at least talk to a close confidant and be able to share of these things.

“Yeah, and so when they already have a pre-existing condition, that puts them at even higher risk. So, if you've had depression or anxiety or something prior to getting pregnant or during pregnancy, you need to watch yourself extra close. If you start to have those thoughts or feelings, jump on it right away," commented Nurse Dani.

Exactly, and I think that's in the future, what I would like to see on the screening side. Take a deeper dive, even before having a baby. Somebody's thinking about having a baby and they can talk to a health care provider, talking about their risk factors because they come to play. The genes that we have, our tendencies, our propensities to certain feelings, OCD, or anxiety, or worry those all will come into play. It's so crazy to me how the nervous system is affected when you have a baby and what you have to go through and we don't talk enough about the fact that it's just a jolt to the system. If you carry some pre-existing conditions with you, which we all do, they may manifest themselves in a very extreme way.

Emily hadn't had a whole lot of that, just some normal stuff right? Normal baby blues. So, it was a surprise to us when she had such severe anxiety this last go around, but you can look at the risk factors and you can kind of piece it together so you're prepared and you're not blindsided. I felt like I was blindsided. I wish that we could have sat down and talked through this and prepared me a little bit more for what was potentially in front of me.

Nurse Dani then added, "I think it's important for everyone to understand, too that depression is often where people fixate on the past and that affects how they're able to function in the present. Anxiety is where you can't stop worrying about certain things in the future and depression and anxiety often go hand in hand. So, if you're obsessing about the past and can't get over it, and you're worried about the future, you're going to lose hope."

What kind of progress have you seen in Utah in the last year?

As I reflect back to what the landscape looked like a year ago, I'm honestly humbled at how much people care in Utah. I mean, we care about moms, we care about families, we care about children here.

I've sat with some influential individuals in the state of Utah and the healthcare, politics and people care, and they want to make a difference. I've seen a difference. One example that I would share, comes from an Intermountain facility, Utah Valley Hospital, and I met with the management team down there and they're piloting some programs right now that are phenomenal, that are world class.

We're learning from others, but my vision of the future in Utah is people will be coming to Utah to see what we're doing to screen and treat moms for mood disorders.

I compliment what their team has done down there. They've been so open with me, they've asked for my opinion, they've followed up with me, they've told me what they've been doing. And I know some of the employees that are nurses, and they've just said it's a night and day difference. And just the response from the community has been positive. That's one example.

There's an OB office in Utah County that we met with and was very open to having our suggestions and opinions. And some of the things that they've done specifically, they have a clinician who's focused on mood disorders, and that clinician from what I hear is pretty busy right now. I think after Emily had her experience, and seeing her face on the news, and seeing the tragic experience that she went through, people attached to her story. I've had hundreds of moms say, "That could have been me".

"That could have been me". So, I think we've given license and approval for moms to say, "I'm going to seek help. I'm going to reach out." Some of the OB offices that I've spoken with have said the calls went up as soon as Emily had her experience and accident. The clinicians have responded, and those managing the practices have tried to implement new resources, and I think it's been well received.