More Than the Baby Blues

07.23.09 Proposed legislation fuels debate over universal screening for postpartum depression

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Postpartum depression (PPD) is a very serious health condition with a serious debate swirling around it. A bill is currently making its way through Congress that would mandate funding for research, services and public education about PPD, which has ignited a dispute over whether all women should be screened for the condition, Time magazine reports. (The House version here; the Senate's here.)

According to the magazine, whether PPD screening identifies actual cases "or simply contributes to the potentially dangerous medicalization of motherhood" is the issue at the center of this controversy.

Both critics and advocates of the bill, known as the Mothers Act, agree about increased support for new moms. However, opponents say that such screenings are known for giving false positives, plus argue that more testing is a push from pharmaceutical companies to sell more medication to women who don't need it.

On the flip side, proponents say PPD screening is not supposed to be used as a diagnostic tool but as a way to identify which patients require more evaluation. Experts hope that both sides can find a compromise while acknowledging women's depression but not assuming that all women who struggle with motherhood are depressed.

Most women do experience feelings of sadness and loss after childbirth, known as the "baby blues." Even new dads can feel blue after a new baby is born. But if these feelings intensify and persist, you could be suffering from something more serious, so talk to your doctor. PPD is common, affecting 1 in 7 new moms. And it's very treatable! Check out our When Mama Gets Blue feature to read up on the different aspects of postpartum depression.

And remember, you're not alone and you're not the first mom to feel this way! Take a peek at the real-life admissions in True Mom Confessions—you're not the only one who needs to vent.

We know that the focus shifts entirely to a newborn when he or she arrives, but remember that you can be a better mother in those early months if you take a little time out to attend to your own needs, too.

All the experts agree: Having a happy and healthy baby means babying yourself at times.

Maria Vega is Fit Pregnancy magazine's copy editor.