Health care practitioners discourage disclosure of Postnatal Depression

Picture by Flickr

Picture by Flickr

In a study published yesterday, UK researchers reviewed the disclosure of Postnatal Depression from three different vantage points – the mother, the GP, and home health visitors.

The results are chilling.

The mothers reported making a conscious decision regarding their decision to disclose symptoms of Postpartum Depression which is not terribly shocking because I went through the same thing. It is most definitely a conscious decision and a difficult one at that.

The chilling result lies within the response of the Health Practioners¬† “described strategies used to hinder disclosure and described a reluctance to make a diagnosis of postnatal depression, as they had few personal resources to manage women with postnatal depression themselves, and no services to which to refer women for further treatment.”

I feel as if I’ve been punched in the gut. I want to cry, scream, yell, stomp my feet. But I know that won’t change what’s going on over there and even over here because I’m sure this attitude is very pervasive in the medical community here in America as well.

Where’s the responsibility of the medical professional who turns a blind eye to the struggling new mother and actually uses strategies to prevent her from admitting she’s having a hard time? How does that serve anyone but the selfish nature of that physician? What happened to the Hippocratic Oath and “Do no Harm?”

If we pretend a problem doesn’t exist, it doesn’t go away. What if we pretended cancer was all in our heads and didn’t offer chemo, radiation, or other therapies? Would it go away or would it sit and fester, eventually killing us and hurting those around us? I think we all know that answer. It is no different with Postpartum Mood Disorders. Left untreated a new mother may even slip into Psychosis as she tries to rationalize intrusive thoughts or fall even deeper into depression and attempt to take her own life or even worse, that of her infant’s.

With all the online resources, training, and knowledge at the fingertips of even lay-people such as myself, there is no excuse for medical professionals to ignore this condition anymore. Any medical professional in my opinion who would implement strategies to hinder disclosure of symptoms should be stripped of the right to practice medicine. It’s wrong and it should NOT be acceptable. Mothers deserve to be treated honestly and with respect. They need to be given a safe place in which they are able to admit any emotional trauma or difficulty they are having. Giving them this space will foster the growth of trust and compassion rather than continue to grow the cold shoulder on which they have apparently been leaning upon.

So what can we do about this? Write about it like Katherine Stone, myself, Cheryl Jazzar, and others. SPEAK like Natalie Dombrowski, become active in online peer support like Tonya Rosenberg, talk to another mom and let her lean on you. Let her know you too have been there. Talk with doctors or their nursing staff about your experience and how important their role in discover and recovery can be. Write your Senator in support of The MOTHER’S Act as this wil laid in the growth of knowledge and support among the medical professional as well as research regarding how to bring the new mother and medical professional together. Sharing your story is the best thing a survivor can do. Our voices woven together can be the strongest advocate for increased treatment and acceptance. Won’t you lend us yours?

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