There was an interesting British study highlighted on MSNBC today. This study found that antidepressant medication, the most commonly prescribed drugs in the US, do not help much more than placebos in all but the most severely depressed patients. Most people can probably be helped by alternative therapies or non-medical interventions.
“There is little reason to prescribe new-generation antidepressant medications to any but the most severely depressed patients unless alternative treatments have been ineffective,” wrote researchers in the latest issue of the public Library of Science Medicine.
So why are postpartum women being offered antidepressant medication and urged to stop breastfeeding their babies as a result of this “treatment”? The factors leading to postpartum depression are multifaceted and complicated, and can not always be relieved with an easily prescribed pharmaceutical. We should have policies in place that support families – mandatory paid maternity and paternity leave would be a great first step. Health and wellness education would be another – our health (mental and physical) is so intimately tied to what we put into our bodies, yet nutrition counseling is not often discussed when diagnosing depression.
Placenta encapsulation is such an easy, natural step to take in decreasing the chance of developing the baby blues, and eventually postpartum depression. I truly believe that if more women made use of the placenta in their postpartum recovery that the rates of postpartum depression would decline, and therefore the use of antidepressants to treat it would decline as well.
I’m not saying pharmaceutical medications do not have their place. However, if there are easier, more natural options to try first, why not give it a chance? If a woman is still suffering after making sure her body is well-nourished, then absolutely she needs to explore other options. But do we need to medicate ourselves at the current rate? Particularly when the medications are contraindicated with breastfeeding? At that point we begin adversely affecting the health of the baby as well, and that should not be done lightly. Certainly not as the first step in treating postpartum depression.