I chose male postpartum depression as a misunderstood medical condition because in our culture, when talking about postpartum depression, emphasis is usually placed on the mother’s postpartum depression and discussion on how the father is affected is limited or absent. In fact, male postpartum depression is so seldom discussed that most fathers are misdiagnosed or never diagnosed at all. This could be because our society tends to view depression as a weakness, something that only affects those people who cannot handle life’s difficulties when this can be further from the truth. According to the article, “Depression in Men: A Dad’s Story of Male Postpartum Depression,” about 10.4% of new dads experience postpartum depression and it is often seen in correlation with the mother’s postpartum depression. Since men exhibit depression differently than women, it is somewhat difficult to recognize when someone is experiencing postpartum depression and when to seek help. Therefore, culture can often prevent someone from receiving proper treatment like counseling or therapy, or from the biomedical aspect taking antidepressants.
With depression being considered a weakness, it is safe to say that there could be a stigma associated with being diagnosed with male postpartum depression. Family and friends could see this as an excuse to bail out of fatherly responsibilities and the individual himself could experience shame and distress for the way he feels. If there is no information available to inform new parents about the possibility of paternal postpartum depression and they are not taught how to recognize the signs, then it is less likely that they will seek treatment. This can be very harmful for the parents’ relationship and for the development of the child. Craig Mullins, the father discussed in the article, suggests that one way to diagnose male postpartum depression is to have an assessment done on the man when the woman is experiencing postpartum depression. He also highlights some symptoms of male postpartum depression which include; cynicism, impulsiveness, indecisiveness, losing interest in sex, and constantly working.
I think that belief and healing are very interconnected. The video “Placebo: Cracking the Code” discussed the mysteries of placebos and how effective they prove to be in treatment. One example they found was from a woman suffering from depression. She was involved in a placebo study and she was not told whether she received the medicine or the placebo, nor did the volunteers or doctors know which one she had been given. However, it was determined that she was given the placebo and her brain activity revealed that she showed more activity in the frontal lobe which is associated with positive feelings, which lead researchers to discover that healing is a very physical process where the brain is active. I do not have a personal experience to go from but the placebo effect can be seen in Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince when Harry made Ron believe that he had spiked his drink with a potion that was supposed to make him lucky right before an important Quidditch match. Even though Harry did not really spike Ron’s drink, since Ron thought he did, he began to feel more confident in his abilities as a Keeper and performed so well that they won the match (this example can be equivalent to people who believe a pair of shoes will enhance their athletic ability). These examples, whether real or fictional highlight the powerful affect our brains have on how we perform or heal. Placebos are a fascinating aspect of medicine that could change the way we treat disease and illness.
Katherine Stone, “Depression In Men: A Dad’s Story of Male Postpartum Depression,” Postpartum Progress, April 24, 2012, accessed July 24, 2014, <http://www.postpartumprogress.com/depression-in-men-a-dads-story-of-male-postpartum-depression>