American media is constantly bombarding its onlookers with pictures of the perfect family. Although this idea continues to change, and is definitely not the same as it was maybe 50 years ago, it still stresses expectations of what “perfect parents” should look like and how they should behave, as if perfect is ever going to be attainable. At the same time, academic debates pop up constantly, arguing over the correct punishment/reward systems, successful education plans, and even how much a parent should play a role in helping his/her children make decisions. When the fascinating miracle of conception is discovered by a set of parents or a single mother, the pressures begin to escalate. It’s frustrating that we can’t make up our minds so easily on we would like to raise our own children because we are so concerned with the opinions of others, whether we will consciously admit it or not. We also have to be careful not to infringe on any child protective laws because losing a child to the government is one of the most painful things a well-intended parent can go through. Many expecting mothers are gifted with a book sometime during their pregnancy, titled, “What to Expect When You’re Expecting,” or something similar. And then finally, the baby comes along, and all of that planning must be put into action. As we all know, babies are a lot of work, and the slightest feeling of failure or disappointment or even just frustration can launch a parent into a tangled web of symptoms, what we have come to diagnose as a disorder, or post-partum depression.
I think that our society has a fairly positive take on the disorder. This is not to say that that is entirely a good thing, though. We place a high priority on keeping an eye out for the faintest symptoms and for reporting it. Expecting parents are told over and over again that it is a likely disorder to experience and that there is nothing wrong with it. While this makes diagnosis and treatment fairly simple and less stressful or embarrassing, it might have a bad effect on the number of cases. Our minds play a vital role in our well being, as we have been learning through course materials each week, and I think that the expectation of very possibly going through post-partum depression might increase the number of cases that are brought to attention. The placebo effect illustrates a very real and astonishing thing, that our minds can have actual effects on our physical well-being. Although I have no proof, I feel that I am currently experiencing a slight case of the placebo effect. I have a stomach condition, and have been prescribed a medication to help diminish the symptoms. At first, I was very reluctant in believing the doctor had prescribed me the correct thing and it didn’t help my case too much during the initial week that I started taking it. Slowly, I placed more trust in it because I wanted to feel better, and although I have not changed my dosage or any other aspect of taking it (and its reliability is not changed by time or consistency), my symptoms have almost completely subsided. Since we have been learning about the placebo effect while I have been going through this, I have started to suspect that I might be playing tricks on my body.
I worry that the placebo effect is going to have a negative effect on us eventually. If we place too much trust on medicine and treatment, will we start to put things in our bodies that we really don’t need, and could they only hurt us in the long run? Post-partum depression is a serious disorder and deserves all the attention it is getting but I believe it is a disorder in which psychological guidance should be stressed over medication. I don’t think pills are necessary to treat something that so explicitly created in our thoughts to begin with.