I’ve been hesitant to address this issue, because it’s such a sensitive one. But I have felt, for a while, like I’ve wanted to air my laundry/share my experience and views on it. My views on my particular experience. I’m not trying to discount anyone elses experience or feelings about it, I just want to get it out there.
Last fall, my dad was really sick. I blogged about it here when he was first in the hospital but basically, it was really hard on me and my brand new family. A month of the constant hospital visits, worrying about my mom and dealing with the reality of the situation really started to strain on me, and I found myself feeling a little more anxious than usual, and admittedly not sleeping as well. After a particular night of not sleeping, finding myself sobbing on the bathroom floor and a conversation with Jon about it, I decided to see my doctor. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but thought a valium prescription might be in order.
After a ten minute visit, and explaining my situation to him, he diagnosed me with “slight” post partum depression, gave me a prescription for anti-depressants to take for the next 6 months, and told me if I “felt it was necessary” I could find a social worker through my insurance to talk to. I filled the prescription and went home, feeling somewhat content.
Then I looked at the pill bottle. There was the label clear as day “Do not take if you are pregnant or breast feeding”. I called my doctor and told him I was breast feeding (I had forgotten to mention the fact that I was pumping still at our appointment because hello ten minutes is not enough time). He told me that it was not a problem. Then I googled the medication and found that it was passed through breast milk but in studies did not show significant symptoms in the infants. This made me uneasy. I didn’t feel like I had serious PPD and felt like the fact that my baby would be receiving medication through breast milk way outweighed my anxiety and inability to sleep. I just couldn’t bring myself to start the commitment to 6 months of antidepressants which would be passed on to my baby through her food. Plus I wasn’t totally convinced that after 10 minutes my doctor was making a spot on diagnosis. I definitely know that there are serious cases out there where the benefits of the meds outweigh the risks of it being passed on the infant, but I knew mine wasn’t one of those cases.
So I never started the meds. I just couldn’t. I never went to see the therapist either. I was lucky because my dad’s health started to improve and my situation got better. And you know what the fucked up part is? My doctor never even followed up with me. I had an appointment a few months later because of an illness and he didn’t even ask how I was doing. I mean, isn’t that shit on my chart at least?!?! The most ‘follow up’ I got was a letter from my health insurance saying that they noticed I only filled one month of the anti-depressants and that to be effective I should be on at least 6 months of the meds. Yes, America this is what’s wrong with your fucking health care system.
Now, I know that PPD is a serious condition that affects a lot of women (most women?). I also know that ‘back in the day’ it was probably not taken very seriously which has probably lead to the pill happy attitude of my doctor. But the way my Dr. was so quick to diagnose it and medicate me makes me feel like it’s not taken very seriously these days either. I think our culture in general is way too quick to go for a pharmaceutical answer to your problems instead of recommending treatment (i.e therapy) that will take time to work. And I know that in many serious cases of PPD, medication (with therapy) is absolutely the way to go, but I just don’t think that everyone who suffers from it is suffering to the extent that they need the meds. And you can feel free to throw things at me and tell me I have no clue what the fuck I’m talking about and how dare I make these sweeping generalizations about something so serious. I think that our healthcare system is generally too quick to medicate when they should be taken more time to make a careful diagnoses, not just write another script for Ritalin for a 7 year old because his mom saw a commercial for ADHD on television. Oh, and by the way I am totally finding a new doctor.