POSTPARTUM DEPRESSION

The professor, in lecture one talked about motherhood and how subjective postpartum depression was in terms of a woman’s perceptions of her symptoms and her doctors willingness to term the collective of her symptoms as postpartum depression. Culturally, though this condition is probably a western construct as literature on this health concern in other cultures appear minimal.  Biomedically, symptoms of feeling overwhelmed, fatigued and unable to cope are also, in my opinion a cultural construct. In many under developed cultures for example, it is taken for granted that motherhood comes with many hardships that the woman is expected to face without complaint. In one of the previous lectures, Professor Karim talked about how premenstrual syndrome (PMS) was found only in cultures that were exposed to the concept. I feel that postpartum depression would probably also fall into that category, as different cultures give varying levels of significance (or insignificance) to female oriented conditions.

Initially, I thought that I would not be able to relate to the topic of postpartum depression as a male. However, after reading Craig Mullins article about postpartum depression, it would seem that men are also laying claim to having postpartum depression, despite not having any physical experience with partum, or the act of carrying a child. In his article, Mullins interestingly also uses the term ‘ our culture’ several times, acknowledging the westernization of ideologies related to the condition.  He is now counsels males who feel that they are also suffering from male postpartum depression, suggesting that men are becoming more open to the idea that sharing isn’t limited to physical tasks as changing diapers, but can be the sharing of emotional state.

Mullins states “ our culture tends to discourage men from sharing their feelings” and I assume he is referring to American or western culture.  I think though that this transcends culture and is more of a gender issue. Management of a condition such as postpartum depression is dependent on the culture of the person who is being diagnosed. Doctors in non-western cultures may be reluctant to diagnose a patient with something that may be seen culturally as a weakness or laziness on the mother’s part. On the other hand, a doctor may also find it difficult to treat a patient whose culture places a negative connotation on a woman who finds it hard to cope with motherhood.

 

As Dr. Dixon, a physician from England states in the documentary ‘Placebo- Cracking the Code”’,  “a placebo is a self healing effect”. The documentary discusses how research has demonstrated that the power of suggestion was the key component of the placebo effect. People who believed that they were being treated began to heal, even though they were given placebo surgeries or medication. One such patient, Janice Schonfeld was convinced that after 30 years of depression, she had found relief in the trial medication. Interestingly, her brain scans also showed dramatic positive changes in the frontal lobe, which controls mood. This result was significant as she was in fact taking a placebo medication. I personally believe in the self-fulfilling prophecy theory that if you believe something bad is going to happen, it will. The problem I find is, that as a student, it is sometimes hard to get motivated to continuously achieve good grades Despite knowing about the self fulfilling prophecy, I sometimes can create a state of anxiety and poor concentration by believing that I am not going to do well in an exam, which is the perfect example of the power of suggestion!

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