29 January 2016

Meditating on Some Actual Facts

As the discussion continues to swirl around recent remarks by popular author and "spiritual guru" Marianne Williamson decrying depression screening and medication during and after pregnancy and claiming that PPMD is normal (news flash: it's not normal), I've realized that there appear to be some misconceptions contributing to Ms. Williamson and her supporters' commentary. I thought I'd take a moment to address some of the comments I keep hearing that are inaccurate.

1. Across-the-board screening doesn't mean across-the-board medication. Screening is intended to help identify women who are struggling and/or at risk for prenatal or postpartum mood and anxiety disorders, such as Postpartum Depression. That's it. If you go to an appointment, are screened, and your doctor says "I'm worried, let's talk", that isn't synonymous with "Here's a prescription for medication."

2. No, the screening is not a blood test. That's because there is no blood test for prenatal and postpartum mood and anxiety disorders. Blood tests can't read your mind and tell that you're having Intrusive Thoughts. Blood tests can't detect suicidal ideations. Blood tests can't tell that you're hearing voices in your head. Blood tests can't pick up on the fact that you're spending half the day crying for no reason, not sleeping, sleeping too much, have no interest in sex, or most of the other symptoms. Is screening perfect? No. But neither are blood tests. Is increased screening a vast improvement? YES!

3. Prenatal and Postpartum Mood and Anxiety Disorders are not the same thing as the normal hormonal changes that occur during and after pregnancy. PPMD go far beyond that. The normal hormonal changes that occur should clear up within the first few weeks postpartum, and should not leave you unable to function. These normal changes should not include Intrusive Thoughts, thoughts of hurting yourself or someone else, hearing voices, etc. For more on the symptoms of PPMD, check out Postpartum Progress' lists of Symptoms of Postpartum Depression and Anxiety (in Plain Mama English) and Postpartum Psychosis Symptoms (in Plain Mama English) .

4. There is no one guaranteed or right way to prevent or treat PPMD. Not all women will respond the same way to the same treatment, not all women need the same treatment, and even the same woman may need or respond differently to different treatments at different times. I myself have experience in the fact that different pregnancies meant different situations needing different responses. After one pregnancy, I needed medication. After a different pregnancy, I needed to switch the birth control I was using. A different pregnancy lead to me needing therapy but no medication starting or stopping. The point is not to try to get all women to use medication. The point is to make all methods of treatment available for everyone, with no shame or stigma.

5. There is no conflict of interest for the task force that has recommended increased screening for pregnant and postpartum women. The U.S. Preventative Services Task Force has a page specifically for the disclosure of Conflicts of Interest and it can be viewed here. Here's the screenshot.


The idea that the recommendations for increased depression screenings of pregnant and postpartum women is designed to pad the pockets of "Big Pharma" is a manufactured conspiracy theory that is inaccurate and dangerous.

Increased screening is a good thing. Increased screening means more women getting the help they need at a very vulnerable time. Increased screening means fewer lives lost. Increased screening means healthier and happier moms, babies, and families. If increased screening means more women taking medication, cool. Medication SAVES LIVES. Too many women currently suffer in silence. PPMD go underreported, too often going undiagnosed and misdiagnosed. The way to fix this is through more conversations (ones that are NOT ignorant and based in fallacies), through more education and awareness, through a decrease in stigma and shame. That is what I and my fellow Warrior Moms have been working towards, and we will not sit quietly and see it undone by people who are uneducated and ignorant about the truth, as we have already shown through our success with #MeditateOnThis.

When it comes to PPMD, facts trump conspiracy theories. Meditate on that, Marianne & Co.

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4 comments:

  1. I appreciate your information on the symptoms for depression. I wrote about this, too, recently. More specifically about the causes and cure to depression.

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  2. I appreciate your information on the symptoms for depression. I wrote about this, too, recently. More specifically about the causes and cure to depression.

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