In 2014, Senator Krueger and Assembly Member Richard Gottfried sponsored legislation, which passed unanimously in both houses of the Legislature and was signed into law by Governor Cuomo, to provide education and promote screening and treatment-referrals for maternal depression. Maternal depression includes a range of perinatal mood disorders, emotional and psychological reactions a woman may experience during pregnancy or up to a year after childbirth. Symptoms can include feelings of despair or guilt, sadness, fatigue, difficulty concentrating, changes in appetite, and thoughts of suicide or of harming the baby. Maternal depression includes prenatal depression, “baby blues,” postpartum anxiety, postpartum depression, and postpartum psychosis. The latter is the most severe of these conditions, often including hallucinations and delusions, and results in infanticide and suicide rates of four and five percent, respectively.
Maternal depression affects a significant portion of pregnant women and new mothers; in fact, it is one of the most common medical complications women may experience during and after pregnancy. Each year, approximately 10 to 15 percent of new mothers develop postpartum depression, while 50 to 80 percent of new mothers will experience “baby blues.” A small but significant number – about 0.1 to 0.2 percent of new mothers – develop symptoms serious enough to be considered postpartum psychosis.
Maternal depression can lead to significant negative consequences for those affected and their families and children if left untreated. However, treatment for maternal depression has an 80 to 90 percent success rate. Early diagnosis and treatment significantly improve prognoses.