Childbirth is often referred to as one of nature's most wonderful events. Though that sentiment may indeed be true, the act of having a baby isn't without risks and side effects. From incontinence and vaginal tearing to backaches and pelvic pain that persists long after your child's first birthday, becoming a mom is a challenging, life-changing endeavor. But one of the most common ailments after childbirth — experienced by roughly one in seven women — is a different beast altogether, because the symptoms aren't always visible to the naked eye. It's an illness known as postpartum depression or postpartum anxiety, which can lead to devastating consequences if left untreated. If you're wondering what to do if you have postpartum depression or anxiety but minimal medical insurance (or none at all), below are some alternative resources you may want to consider.
Though PPD and PPA are common postpartum conditions, they frequently go undiagnosed by medical professionals, resulting in some troubling statistics. For example, only 15 percent of women with PPD receive professional treatment such as counseling and/or medication, according to Postpartum Progress. Further, suicide accounts for about 20 percent of postpartum deaths and is the second most common cause of mortality in postpartum women, according to A Health Blog.
Avoiding getting help is simply not an option when it comes to perinatal mood and anxiety disorders like PPD and PPA. If you have insurance of any kind, check your plan benefits for information on behavioral health services or coverage for mental health disorders. If you still aren't sure, ask your human resources representative or contact your insurance company directly. A mental health parity law passed in 2008 requires coverage for such services to be comparable to those for physical illness. And thanks to the Affordable Care Act, most health plans must now cover preventive services, like depression screening.
Even if you have insurance, though, you might be concerned about out-of-pocket fees associated with seeking treatment. And you're not alone: According to a 2009 survey by the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), the leading reason people with mental health issues avoid treatment is cost. In that case, here are some free or low-cost options for you to get the support you need:
- Think about joining a postpartum support group in your area.
- If you can't find a group near you, Postpartum Progress offers a private online forum for mothers in need. Alternately, you can send a private message asking to join Nueva Vida Postparto, a secret Facebook group for Spanish-speaking mothers, or check out the online support groups at PyschCentral.
- Enter your ZIP at SAMHSA's Behavioral Health Treatment Services locator to find community clinics providing mental health services in your area. Such providers often have sliding-scale fees based on your income.
- If you attend church or synagogue, ask to be put in touch with a pastoral counseling program. Like community clinics, pastoral counseling is often provided on a sliding-scale fee.
However you decide to seek treatment for PPD or PPA, remember that getting help is a good choice to make. Though PPD may present itself differently in everyone, most women who have overcome it would agree: You don't have to suffer in silence.