By Stephanie Stahl

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The pandemic is causing mental health difficulties for many people. Rates of depression and anxiety have increased. New research focuses on how COVID-19 is impacting new moms.

The birth of a new baby is supposed to be a time of joy. Exhausting, but thrilling.

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But now with COVID-19, moms and their new babies are kept isolated at home to stay safe, and that’s creating a new kind of postpartum depression.

New mom Tara Guillot gave birth to her daughter Penelope Mae just weeks into the pandemic. She says social distancing is making many new moms like herself feel more isolated.

Her daughter hasn’t met her grandparents yet.

“It was heartbreaking. I felt robbed of people being able to enjoy her,” Guillot said. “She’s never going to be this little again.”

Depression and anxiety affects one in seven women during and after pregnancy. Now, new research from the University of Alberta shows the pandemic is creating more struggles.

“What we found is that the moms really are not OK right now,” Dr. Margie Davenport said.

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Davenport led the study, which surveyed 900 women who were either pregnant or new moms.

In April and May, nearly 41% had symptoms of depression compared to 15% before the pandemic, and 72% experienced moderate to high anxiety compared to 43% pre-COVID-19.

“We were fully expecting that women would be experiencing higher rates of depression and anxiety,” Davenport said. “But the magnitude of the increase was really quite shocking to me.”

Physical activity may help. New moms who got the recommended 150 minutes of exercise each week reported less depression and anxiety.

Women like Guillot are also finding support online. She met Sharibeth Lugo-Kidd through a group called Finding Your Village.

“It’s just so refreshing to know that I’m not the only one out there besides just like me and Tara,” Lugo-Kidd said.

Both moms encourage new parents struggling during this time to reach out for help.

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Experts say it’s important to get help because long-term emotional turmoil can leave a lasting physical impact on both new moms and babies.

Stephanie Stahl