I rarely discuss specific legislation on my blog, not because I don't care, but because I don't always know what to say. But there are some issues which I cannot remain silent on. Postpartum depression is one such topic. "The Mothers' Act" is now in committee in the Senate. And this act would greatly increase the treatment opportunities for mothers with postpartum depression.
Those of us who've ever experienced depression of any kind know it can be its own private hell. It can make you exhausted, make it hard to get out of bed, make it hard to eat, and hard to do anything. In addition, it's very poorly understood by most people.
The frequent assumption is that women will be thrilled to have their newborns, and the frills and rainbows of having a new child will overtake any challenge. But depression, in my general perception, thrives on life changes. Giving birth is a huge challenge, and the changes in eating, sleeping and caring for a newborn can be stressful, making depression even more difficult to deal with.
Also, because awareness of postpartum depression is poor, we're generally poor at screening for it. Psychiatric conditions have tons and tons of stigmas, and this only compounds the problem. A woman dealing with postpartum depression has the challenges of giving birth, caring for a newborn, poor understanding of what to watch for and fear of "what's happening to me?" There are so many aspects compounding the situation, and we as a nation just aren't as well prepared to deal with it. Only 15% of women who actually need treatment actually get it.
In social work classes last year, we discussed postpartum depression, and what can follow it. In some cases, it can lead to failure to thrive in a child, which is basically a child who isn't growing well, or is underweight. There are also psychosocial issues connected to failure to thrive, and these can be long-term issues if not caught early. Postpartum depression is oonly one of many things which can contribute to this, but I brought it up because it's important to understand that this can lead to problems for both the mother and the child. And that doesn't even touch the topics of suicide or infanticide. But these are also possibilities.
The thing is, that with proper treatment and help, there is hope for the women facing this condition. With support, counseling and possibly medication, many women do recover. I do know that it can flare up even after the postpartum stage, but it can be treated.
So, the Mothers Act
The Moms Opportunity to Access Help, Education, ResearchSource.
and Support for Postpartum Depression Act, or MOTHERS Act (
), will ensure that new mothers and their families are educated about postpartum
depression, screened for symptoms and provided with essential services. In addition,
it will increase research into the causes, diagnoses and treatments for postpartum
depression. The bill is sponsored by Senators Menendez and Durbin.
Here are a few resources on Postpartum depression and the Mothers Act. Please blog about it, call or write your senators and encourage others to do the same:br>Background on Blog Day for The Mothers Act
A Postpartum Depression Primer