A Law To Help New Moms' Mental Health

This article is more than 11 years old.
Anyone who has given birth to a child can attest that those first few weeks (months? years?) postpartum can make you feel like you're insane. Who among us can juggle sleep deprivation, a ragged, post-birth body and the sobering responsibility of motherhood without experiencing the blues — or much worse.

So it seems like a good thing that the state of Massachusetts passed a new law to better understand postpartum depression.

The law requires insurers to report on their efforts to screen for postpartum depression; the Department of Public Health to develop new policies to address the disorder; and the creation of a commission to figure out the best ways to detect and treat it.

Similar laws have been proposed in other states with some controversy. Doctors have opposed the measure, wanting to retain control of their own turf. Insurers don't want another coverage mandate. And some opponents see the legislation as a sneaky gift to the pharmaceutical industry: if more women are diagnosed with depression, more will be prescribed medications.

But that attitude doesn't take into account the grim reality, much of it previously ignored, about how bad postpartum mood disorders of all types can be.

Back in 2008, I wrote a story for The Wall Street Journal about postpartum depression and in particular, the emergence of post traumatic stress disorder from childbirth which, according to studies, appears to be more prevalent then previously thought.

This program aired on August 22, 2010. The audio for this program is not available.