Stigma hinders treatment for postpartum depression

NPR, August 2, 2011
When Heidi Koss picks up her daughter Bronwen from middle school in a Seattle suburb, it's completely routine: They chat about kickball and whether Bronwen ate the muffin her mother packed for a snack. But 10 years ago when Bronwen was born, things were anything but ordinary, says Koss. "I felt nothing toward my baby," says Koss. "One day I woke up and I didn't care about her." Katherine Wisner, a professor of psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh who's been studying postpartum depression since 1985, says it's hard to get doctors interested in PPD. She says many are not trained for it, and insurance companies often don't reimburse for it. But, she says, treatment, which consists of counseling or antidepressants, can help about half the time, and acknowledging the disease can at least ease the social strain. Mothers from all socioeconomic groups are affected. In a recent survey of 10,000 women who had given birth at a University of Pittsburgh hospital, Wisner and her colleagues found that 14 percent across all economic classes showed symptoms that met the criteria for PPD.

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