Prenatal & Post-Partum Depression

Post Partum DepressionTuesday evening I was in a favorite place, the kitchen, slicing and dicing veggies for what I hoped would be a delicious dinner, as is my custom, happily listening to NPR. There was a story about recognizing the need to care for women who were pregnant, or recently post-partum dealing with depression. Given the fact that in a past life, (pre-Masters in Oriental Medicine and current beloved career path), I had been certified as a psychiatric and mental health RN, I listened up and hand cut the onions rather than allow the Cuisinart to compete for these words.

The doctor being interviewed spoke clearly about how damaging depression could be, both for the pregnant woman, or new mother, and her new-born; how their bonding could be adversely effected, and her sense of being a failure could prove quite painful. Twenty plus years as a charge nurse in psychiatric facilities had afforded me many examples of this most debilitating condition. But, then came, his typical, western medicine ‘cure’–anti-depressants.

He went on to say that while there is ‘some risk’ of these pharmaceuticals causing birth defects, the risk was small. It was not only the onions causing me to tear, as I thought of one of the possible ‘small side effects’, a cleft palate. Imagine the parents of a newborn pacing the waiting room as their tiny little one underwent surgery to correct what could have been avoided! Surely they would not think of the side effect as being ‘small’.

Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine has a long history of helping persons with depression, and or anxiety. And, yes, helping pregnant women who present with these symptoms, safely, with no side-effects. In fact, helping these women have better, healthier pregnancies!

It is irrefutable that antidepressants have helped many people feel better. I am not contesting this. I long for the day when ALL options are presented.

Years ago there was a piece on the news about how NIH had agreed that Acupuncture was as effective as a popular, (very expensive) anti-nausea medicine for persons under-going chemo-therapy. What they failed to mention though was that the medicine they were speaking of, (remember, the RN), was proven to have the potential to cause severe Liver damage! Acupuncture would not! I don’t see them as being equal.

I long for the day when our capacity to deliver quality health care is recognized.