What the Postpartum Depression Act Means for Mothers

postpartum depression

For many moms with newborns, postpartum depression is a very real concern. The time after having a baby can be a very confusing time and it's hard to know what's "normal" as a new mom. Unfortunately, even though postpartum depression is actually pretty common, with around one in seven new mothers experiencing the mental health disorder, it's still not managed in a comprehensive manner in the medical community. Many mothers slip through the cracks and do not receive the treatment they need to get better, which is why the new postpartum depression bill is important.

What Is Postpartum Depression?

Although it's normal to go through a transition period of having some "baby blues" in the first few weeks after having a baby, any feelings of depression, mood swings, or irritability and anxiety that interfere with a woman's daily life beyond two weeks postpartum are not normal.

There are also postpartum anxiety disorders separate from postpartum depression known as perinatal mood and anxiety disorders (PMADs).

The bottom line is that you should contact your doctor if you are experiencing any changes in behavior and mood that are affecting your daily life after having a baby.

The Postpartum Depression Bill

With all we know about postpartum depression, including the fact that we need more standardized screening and care for the disorder, a new bill, aptly titled, "Bringing Postpartum Depression Out of the Shadows Act of 2015" was just passed that may help.

While national organizations such as the U.S. Preventive Task Force, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and The American Psychiatric Association have screening guidelines, this bill will bring vital funding to give state health programs the opportunity to create screening and treatment programs for all moms who have given birth and up through their baby's first year of life. Introduced by Rep. Katherine M. Clark, the act has already passed in both the House of Representatives and the Senate. Clark was inspired by some of the work done in Massachusetts with their Child Psychiatry Access Project.

She believes that the bill is incredibly important because currently, one in seven women will have postpartum depression, but only 15 percent of them will actually get treated.

Hopefully, this act will become law and start the process of creating more screening programs and treatment options for mothers after having a baby, so that no mother falls through the cracks and gets missed if she is suffering from postpartum depression. 

What to Do If You Suspect You Have Postpartum Depression

While we wait for a day when postpartum depression screening and treatment is totally routine, as it should be, if you suspect you have postpartum depression, please do not hesitate to get the help that you need. If you are one of the 400,000 women that will be diagnosed with postpartum depression this year in the United States alone, please talk to your doctor or call a hotline that can connect you with resources in your area.

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