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New Moms Suffering Mental Health Issues Often Don't Receive Treatment

When it comes to postpartum depression, low-income mothers in urban areas appear to be struggling the most. And with horrific stories of mothers reportedly tossing their infants out of windows, there has been more scrutiny of the topic as of late.

According to a 2010 study by the University of Rochester Medical Center that was published in the journal Pediatrics, 50 percent of these low-income moms could have been diagnosed with depression "at some point between two weeks and 14 weeks after delivery," CNN reports. That's in comparison with the 20 percent of overall women who will reportedly suffer from a form of depression, mood or anxiety disorder during or after pregnancy.

What's even more eye-opening is that low-income moms are often not receiving treatment for the mental-health issues they're facing.

From financial barriers to shame and cultural differences, CNN reports, these women are missing out on vital medical attention that they need.

"It brings shame upon you and your family forever if you were to talk about the depression, and so that is a definite hurdle to get over," Marty Hartman, executive director of Mary's Place, a Seattle shelter, tells CNN.

Not only that, but low-income mothers are often reportedly concerned with what might happen to their children if they mention that they need help.

"There's a fear that if one opens up ... that child protective services would become involved, and it's not uncommon for women to fear the extreme that their children will be taken away from them," Dr. Judy Greene, director of women's mental health at Bellevue Hospital Center in New York City, tells the site.

While experts stress that there is a spectrum when it comes to depression and anxiety disorders, with the sometimes violent postpartum psychosis being the most extreme and rare (but which perhaps receives the most media attention), Lynne McIntyre, manager of the maternal health program at Mary's Center for Maternal and Child Care in Washington, D.C., tells the news outlet that "normalizing postpartum depression and other mental illnesses associated with pregnancy" is key to helping women report their symptoms to their health-care providers and get treatment.

Greene at Bellevue goes one step further, mentioning that mental health treatment is integrated into general women's health care at the New York hospital, increasing the opportunities to reach a woman who wouldn't otherwise reveal her need for treatment.

With celebrities such as Hayden Panetierre and Gwyneth Paltrow going public with their struggles, helping to raise awareness and decrease the stigma of the disorder, experts are also talking more about what postpartum depression can look like.

In fact, some signs of postpartum depression might include, according to CNN, "a new mom who is crying a lot, has trouble sleeping, has a loss of appetite or is eating too much, has panic attacks, is angry or irritable, seems overwhelmed or seems bit off."

The important thing, of course, is to get help.

Image via Twenty20/michelle_evelene

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