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KTLA: A Comic’s Postpartum Depression Battle Turned Laughs Into Legislation

KTLA Channel 5 News recently interviewed Cedars-Sinai patient and comedian Angelina Spicer about her bout with postpartum depression.

Spicer sought help and eventually worked her story into her stand-up routine. And now, the successful comic is using her experience to make audiences laugh. She's also using her experience to fuel a fundamental change in how the condition is treated throughout California.

"I’m what you call an accidental activist," Spicer said. "I never intended on lobbying."

Yet, Spicer found herself championing three bills signed into law by former California Gov. Jerry Brown and set to go into effect next year.

One of the laws directs the state's public health department to tap into new federal funding for maternal mental health. Another bill requires that all hospital staff who care for pregnant women be trained about maternal mental health conditions. The third new law mandates doctors, nurse practitioners and midwives to screen their patients during and after pregnancy.

then to use that training to screen women who have given birth for depression and funding to implement a treatment referral system.

“The year 2020 we are talking major change,” Spicer said.

Eynav Accortt, PhD, assistant professor in the Cedars-Sinai Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology and a clinical psychologist, told KTLA that 10% of U.S. women are at risk, but women of color experience a higher rate of developing the illness.

“Researchers from all over the country are trying to understand why women of color are at higher risk,” Accortt told KTLA. “Psychologically, women of color are raised with this narrative of being a strong black woman, which is a wonderful and powerful narrative. However, when one is feeling weak, when one is feeling depressed, when one is feeling anxious, (women) need to feel comfortable to seek out professional help.”

That is the message behind Spicer's stand-up routine, Spicer told KTLA.

“My advice to those moms or those women out there who don't have a dime or don't have the resources that I was blessed to have – we gotta get in front of this, we have to prevent it. Give information, reduce stigma so that people don't feel afraid to ask for help and that their needs are met with help. We need to be able to look into our family's eyes and say 'I need help' and have our family be there to meet us where we are.”

Click here to watch the complete KTLA report. 

Read more on the Cedars-Sinai Blog: Beyond Baby Blues: Postpartum Depression