Earlier today, someone I follow on Twitter tweeted about the cost of Postpartum Depression.
She stated: “Researcher asked me how much PPD “costs” & I can’t find figure anywhere. Surely, there is a $ amount. #ppd #postpartum.”
My response: What does she mean by how much does it “cost” In terms of what? Treatment? Time lost to illness? Memories lost?
There are some things #Postpartum steals from you on which you cannot put a price.
Her: @unxpctdblessing that is so true. She’s a researcher and is studying that which is measurable. So much can not be measured.
Me: I suppose she could create a hypothetical woman and start by pricing various antidepressants, typical co-pays or out of pocket.
Her: @unxpctdblessing well, all of those are real costs but she’s talking about financial cost in terms of health care, lost work, etc.
Me: I have no idea where you would get those numbers. It would depend on so many things from woman to woman.
Her: very interesting research study! We’ve been using a spectrum approach to talk about the #postpartum period. Thanks for the thoughts! I’ll pass them on!
This conversation took place nearly 5 hours ago. I’ve been consumed with it ever since.
How on earth do you put a price on Postpartum Mood Disorders?
Sure, you can talk about financial cost in terms of health care, lost work, etc. But what about the emotional cost? The lost and missed memories? The heartache and damage it does to marriage, to bonding with your infant, to the anxiety which comes storming into your life as a result? What about the cost of a divorce or family estrangement as a result? Do you measure that with legal costs? How do you put a price on someone’s mental health? Someone’s heart? Someone’s love and life?
My Postpartum Mood Disorders?
Nearly destroyed my marriage.
Severely affected my bond with my two daughters.
Cost me enjoying the infancy of my two daughters which fed into anger during my son’s infancy because I was able to enjoy his.
Missed several family events, etc, because of anxiety/paranoia, breakdown.
Therapy for over a year.
Medication for over two years.
Fed into antepartum depression.
Stole nearly three full years of my life.
How on earth do you put a price on all of that? I know I can’t. I don’t even know where to start. Frankly, there is no number big enough to cover everything I lost during the three years of the first years of my motherhood. No number.
I also feel like bonding with my son suffered. It’s hard not to feel guilty about it. Yep, still paying for it.
I got SO very angry. So very very angry once I experienced a normal postpartum because up until then, I had no idea what I had missed. So in reality, Postpartum really ruined all three of my experiences. I am done having children so I have been working on coming to terms with that being the way things are as they are not changing. I can only look forward. I have to stop looking back and wondering what might have been if only…..
Financially my PPOCD probably ran into the tens of thousands of dollars, possibly $100k or more. But now that my son is almost four I still can’t read his baby book. I still have things that trigger those feelings. Just today I was washing my hands and instantly was taken back into the hospital because the soap smelled like what I washed my hands with for hours every day while I was trying to get better. There is a sadness and a guilt that I don’t think will ever go away. My memory isn’t quite what it used to be from the ECT. Even though I survived Postpartum OCD and consider myself recovered, I don’t think anyone truly recovers 100% when they go through something as traumatic as PPOCD. There is always that ghost haunting and waiting to invade your joy.
wow. amazing how you put this into words. Time is worth so much more than any sum of money. that’s the hardest part. the loss of time.
The cost to me: a job, a year, my confidence, an easy entry into motherhood, my belief in my sanity, friends, stability in my marriage, peace of mind, connection with my baby, a year of regaining my balance, 5 years before I could have a second child with confidence that I wouldn’t descend into hell once again. Grief, pain, more tears and rage, loss of judgement, loss of the chance to grieve the death of my uncle with my family. Nights of terror-filled horror. Loss of heart. Loss of self. Left with nothing, having to rebuild everything. It was a very high cost. But almost none of it could be put into numbers.
I know why researchers want a monetary number. It’s a way to prove to those who haven’t been there and perhaps don’t compassionately understand the issue that it’s important to pay attention to this critical leading complication to postpartum women. If we could say, for example, it costs the state of Massachusetts 10 million dollars every year to care for women and our families experiencing ppd, it’s one more way to advocate for care, screening, and public dollars to go to mothers struggling. It’s one more way to make a public mandate for doing the right thing: caring for mothers when we need it most — when we are in the thick of postpartum crisis.
But it’s impossible to put a number to the suffering we’ve all experienced. And it feels demeaning to our experience. What we’ve been thru — This is in our hearts, in our baby’s eyes, in our marriages that have suffered and our hearts that have broken. We can put no number on all of that. We must sit with it and give it more time to heal.
With enormous respect for the “cost” this has had for all of us and our path to healing,
This is a scary thing that a researcher just doesn’t get it. In fact it took me 18 months to bond with the oldest when I was suffering w PPD. Some things in life you cannot and shouldn’t put quantitative value to the loss and confusion I felt, husband, in laws, my parents, my siblings had to endure. Quick attitudes…pissed off for no reason. Sad thought. If researchers really got it they would drop the whole putting a $$$price tag and use that money to help poor women gain better access to good PPD professionals. A lot of times good professionals do not take govt subsidized insurance.
It’s also important to note that many women on Medicaid for their pregnancy have that insurance revoked at just 8 weeks postpartum. Postpartum Mood Disorders can last so much longer – and may not even manifest until later in the first year. Then you’ve got a woman in a situation where she needs medical care but no access to medical insurance or care which certainly complicates things even further. It’d be cheaper to extend insurance for a minimum of 6 months postpartum than to deal with the exponential issues a depressed parent brings to the table. There are so many indiscernible ripples after the bomb of PPD drops into the pond – impossible to measure!
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