I’ve spent a good deal of the day writing advocacy for postpartum depression. I’ve been in communication with the wonderful and passionate Katherine Stone, author of the blog “Postpartum Progress” and postpartum depression advocate. It’s been a great way to learn and stand up for women with pregnancy-related depression disorders.
The MOTHERS act is currently going through congress. It is a bill that supports research for the causes of postpartum depression as well as education and helping families with appropriate services. There is a great deal of controversy about this act. Those who support are hopeful it will provide better support and services for women who need it. Those who oppose fear that postpartum depression will be overdiagnosed, leading to a greater dispersion of antidepressant medication. They have concerns for the moms being put at greater risk and the babies being exposed to medication before birth and during breastfeeding.
There is plenty, and I mean plenty, of controversy about this. While I appreciate the concerns of those not wanting to unnecessarily medicate women and their babies, I personally see a greater risk in denying the progress of comprehensive support for researching and treating PPD. The bill has fairly clear wording about education and research, mentioning nothing about specific treatments. Even though I had a positive experience with medication, I would love to see what research can find about effective alternative treatments. So many depressed women would just be happy to do something effective.
I see the huge risk of what happens when many many women continue to go undiagnosed and untreated. I was that way for three and a half years. While I hope that my children have suffered few or no lasting effects from my depression, I know for certain that I continue to have “depression leftovers.” Anyone who has followed some of my posting the last two months on Psych Central has read about them. And honestly, my kids do have a greater risk for depression in their life because they have at least one parent with confirmed depression for a number of years.
I don’t know all there is to know about how depression and families are connected. But it’s certainly possible they could inherit certain sensitivities from me. That’s also why I need to keep fighting for women who will experience PMDD and postpartum depression in the future. I want my girls and every female their age to have doctors, nurses, and a society that understands postpartum depression better than when I had them.
Ideally, you wouldn’t have to legislate to make that happen. However, we still have a huge stigma about mental illnesses of all kinds. Creating the opportunity for more research and better preventative practices will make some important strides. I can’t change the fact that I experienced postpartum depression, but if I can help more women get information and support at the moment they need it, I didn’t suffer in vain.
Here is the text of the act – please let me know if this link doesn’t work for you.
One final thought – you do not have to agree with me here. I have seen many people with differing opinions after my posts, which is fine. It can make for stimulating conversation. I may have some of the same unanswered questions you do about PPD, even if we have different opinions on this act. I have to be true to myself and support what I believe in. At the very least, consider your own viewpoint on postpartum depression, anyone you’ve known with PPD in your life, etc.