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Why We Need to Be More Open About PPD

Having a baby is a magical time. You’re supposed to exude that new mom glow and dote over your infant. However, not all mothers welcome their little ones with a flood of happy emotions. 

Why We Need to Be More Open About PPD

Postpartum depression (PPD) is a natural and common phenomenon, but it can cause considerable distress to new moms and their families. Unfortunately, the perception that new parenthood is all sunshine and roses compels many women to hide the reality of their experience. Here are four reasons why we need to be more open about PPD if we’re serious about supporting parents in America.  

1. Parents Need More Support Than They Currently Get 

New moms face a challenging road ahead. They experience multiple changes in their physical body and have to cope with a whole new set of demands. One of these could be severe economic stress. The U.S. is unique in not covering everyone under a single-payer health care policy, meaning uninsured moms can face bills as high as $30,000 for an uncomplicated vaginal birth. 

As a result of health care inequities, the most vulnerable new mothers often go without the help they need. Many cannot afford a once-per-week trip to their psychiatrist’s couch, even if their condition is severe enough to merit multiple weekly sessions lasting several hours at a stretch, as in aggressive outpatient therapy. Those parents who could use the most extra support may lack health insurance or find it economically impossible to take off work long enough to seek treatment. 

The disparities make some scientists theorize that PPD could serve an evolutionary purpose. According to anthropologist Edward H. Hagen of Washington State University, studies have yet to find a link between hormonal fluctuations and PPD. If it isn’t the adjusting estrogen and progesterone, what causes the phenomenon? 

The fact that men can also develop the condition lends credence to the theory that PPD evolved to make it more palatable for early humans to abandon infants they couldn’t support during times of scarcity. While this behavior appalls many today, it was a necessary strategy when deciding between feeding an older child who already proved their survival strength rather than taking a chance on an unknown newborn. 

However, humanity has come far since prehistoric times. We collectively have the resources to ease the burden and potentially make PPD as vestigial as an appendix — if we create a world friendlier to parenthood.

2. Understanding Could Transform Public Policy 

Perhaps the biggest reason we need to be more open about PPD is to shed light on societal conditions that make parenthood so problematic for many. The U.S. birth rate already plummeted to its lowest point during 2019, and experts believe failure to reverse the trend could pose a national security risk. 

However, instead of thinking about warfare, maybe society should address the trying conditions parents face that often result in PPD. Switching to a single-payer health care system would end the international embarrassment of having what other nations consider a poorly developed medical system. It would also allow countless young couples to start the families they want without facing a daunting hospital bill. Imagine if they could devote that cash toward buying a home for their growing clan. 

The pandemic illustrated another glaring imbalance in the American work-life equation. In December of 2020, women lost 140,000 jobs — men, not one. Why? Working parents either can’t afford childcare or find services that cater to the new 24-hour-a-day workplace. A crucial part of rebuilding America’s infrastructure must focus on providing adequate care for all little ones and financial assistance for the neediest families.  

3. The Next Generation Deserves Healthy, Happy Parents

Change may happen too slowly for many — but it does occur. It often takes place when the older generation passes on new values to the younger ones. 

The problem is, children imitate how their parents behave far more than they listen to their words. If today’s youth see their grownups turn to the bottle to temporarily escape an overwhelming juggernaut of stress, they will internalize those feelings of helplessness and resort to negative coping strategies themselves. 

Opening up about PPD could teach healthier coping mechanisms. When older children see their grownups go to therapy without fearing the stigma, they’ll learn that reaching out for support is okay. When they witness their folks engaged in healthy coping mechanisms like practicing yoga and going for a walk outdoors, they’ll follow suit. 

4. The Whole Goal of Progress Is to Improve Human Existence 

The media loves to use words like “progress,” — but what good are advancements if most people can’t access them? We need to collectively redefine the term as something that uplifts all citizens, not only those with the most privileges. 

No job on earth is more vital than parenthood — but current policies and attitudes often fail to reflect its importance. Opening up about PPD can help us remember that human beings are any society’s ultimate infrastructure. The only way you get a nation of people with healthy mental outlooks is to provide caregivers with the support and tools they need to raise responsible, mindful citizens who will contribute their gifts to all. 

We Need to Be More Open About PPD — Here’s Why

Far too many parents suffer from PPD alone. Society can provide better support for parents, and opening up about this disorder could raise awareness of the needs human beings have if they want to raise healthy, happy children. 

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