Back in the 1960’s part of the battle women fought was to have their uniqueness recognized and to stop the trend of being diagnosed with a case of female hysteria or hypochondria. Now, with the pharmaceutical companies flexing their muscles in the way health policies are developed, women, especially those in their child bearing years, have an entirely new battle on their hands and it comes under the guise of help which makes it easy to miss.

The fight centers around the proposed Mother’s Act, a policy that if passed would introduce mandatory screening of new mothers for depression or post partum depression. This bill continues to reintroduced despite failing on several occasions and regretfully we’ll probably see it again—the drug company lobbyists are well paid. While 50 years ago doctors were quick to sweep all female issues under the rug as hypochondria or anxiety now pharmaceutical companies are looking for a way to create a pandemic out of what is usually the result of normal post-partum hormonal changes and to pad their pockets with the resulting sales of psycho pharmaceutical drugs.

Unfortunately this move would only help the drug companies, and would mean that women who actually suffer from post-partum depression are no longer taken seriously and do not get the support they need. The result will be over medicated or doped up moms that have no idea how to handle their affliction with proven and safe methods while at the same lessening their ability to care for their children.

In the end the only winners of this legislation are the drug companies and the fleet of mental health workers who will be recruited to screen new moms for signs of illness. The “lift or temporary solution” felt from the drugs can easily become habit forming and will result in billions of dollars per year for the drug companies and their unwitting pushers, the mental health screeners. As an added consequence, many of these women put on these mood altering drugs, and thereby having actual cures neglected, may also need additional medical care (translate: additional medications) to address the side effects – more revenue for the pharmaceutical industry.

Mental Health Screening

Knowing the stress that sometimes can be experienced by a woman who has just given birth—the insecurities, the hormonal imbalances—all those things causing her anguish, troubles and mood swings, how could one come out of the test with anything but a recommendation to be put on antidepressants?

Now what if a mother after receiving such a test opted to not take the anti depressants? Is this a justification for Child Protective Services to intervene for the “welfare of the child”? The violation of your rights that government can take should not be underestimated. Well, you say, “These people are experts and I’m not.” Don’t be persuaded that any “expert” is going to be involved in this diagnosis as a quick look at the most widely used screening test will reveal questions that most anyone answering would be recommended for treatment.

Depression Screening Test

As you can see, the only conclusion a woman in a weakened state can come to after reviewing the questions, especially after recently experiencing pregnancy with all its priorities to the baby in her womb, is that there’s something wrong with her; that she should be put on antidepressants!

It’s a rigged game and as most rigged games are, it’s not in your favor.

The Reality of Medication

Having a child is one of life’s true joys. It’s a time to rejoice in one of the miracles of life. That being said, it does not mean that the mother’s health is as it should be. Her body has been giving “first rights” to the baby she has carried for months and now will do more in an effort to properly feed the baby through the mother’s breast milk. Under those circumstances, there’s bound to be some ups and downs for Mom and at times, that can mean depression rears its ugly head. Feeling depressed after the birth of a baby is difficult, but offering prescriptions as an end-all fix is not the right course of action, and the passing of the Mother’s Act will simply pave the way for more forced screening for afflictions like bipolar disorder, anxiety, eating disorders and the like. So far there is no single study to prove that forced screening helps those targeted to become healthier, better or “happy”.

Here is an interesting excerpt from a speech given by Dr. David Cohen, professor of Social Work at the International Conference on Social Work in Health and Mental Health, in Quebec City, Canada in May 2004 which pertains to this issue:

“For the past 50 years, physicians in the West have been prescribing
psychotropic drugs systematically to hundreds of millions of people to alter undesirable and disruptive emotions and behavior.”

“For the treatment of every single psychological affliction in men and women, in all ethnic groups, from the toddler to the aged, taking psychotropic drugs is now the cornerstone remedy, all other efforts secondary.”

“Despite the reliance on psycho pharmaceuticals, however, not even modest improvements in the incidence, prevalence, relapse rate, duration, or long-term outcome of any condition routinely treated today with psychotropics, such as depression and schizophrenia, can be discerned.”

Looking for a Larger Market

Unfortunately, the pharmaceutical companies will do just about anything to tap into the lucrative market of childbearing females, who range from ages 16 to 50. In doing so they are exposing younger people to an increased risk of suicide, as SSRI drugs have a known potential effect of leading young people towards a suicidal path.

At the same time, a dependence on anti-depressants is also potentially harmful to a fetus, and has been shown to increase the risk of heart problems as well as birth defects and withdrawal symptoms.

So what should potentially depressed pregnant woman do? According to Dr. Breggin, author of “Medication Madness” the best thing to do is seek emotional support from your family or community while at the same time addressing your extra special nutritional needs.

In the meantime, the FDA has quietly been evaluating an increase in the number of adverse events pertaining to SSRI and SNRI antidepressants in relation to birth defects. At the same time many medical professionals are pointing out that women who are put on antidepressants are rarely told that the medication can take anywhere from three to six weeks to work – which can be the same amount of time it takes a person’s body to naturally react to a change in serotonin levels, meaning that many woman can recover on their own without the need for medication. And they recover quicker undergoing a nutritional rehabilitation program designed to replace what has been forfeited by their bodies to help the baby developing in their womb.

Another startling statistic is that antidepressant medication on has a one in ten chance of making a positive change in that person’s mood, meaning that 90% of those taking SSRI or SNRI drugs are simply exposing themselves to potentially dangerous side effects for no reason. While some may argue that ten percent of these people are still being helped, the truth is that many women are at no danger to themselves or others, and after a period of time they could recover fully without the need for medical intervention.

Meanwhile, the FDA in December of 2008 decided to label anticonvulsants, which are often used as mood stabilizer, with a warning of an increase in the risk of suicidal tendencies. Additionally, these drugs can cause serious birth defects.

Atypical Antipsychotics

For nearly 15 years the current types of antidepressants topped sales of psychiatric drugs in the US, but in 2008 antipsychotic revenues surpassed all types of medication, even cholesterol medication. Of the $4.5 billion of worldwide sales of Seroquel (a leading selling drug in the US), $3 billion of it comes from the United States. So apparently only a section of North America is going mad.

Antipsychotic revenues accounted for $14 billion of sales in the last year. The runners up to the big drug race are anticonvulsants with $11 billion and antidepressants with $9.5 billion. The question is – why are antipsychotics becoming so much more popular than antidepressants. For one, they are being prescribed for every type of mood related issue from depression to sleep problems and ADHD. Secondly, they are enormously expensive at an average of $7-10 per pill.

It would appear that the drug companies have caught on that antipsychotic drugs are a huge profit maker, however if they limited themselves to treating schizophrenics and those with bipolar disorder, which the drug was initially intended to treat, they are missing out on a huge market and potential payday. By expanding the drug to treat all types of mood disorders, whether they need treatment or not the drug companies are thoroughly lining their pockets.

Side Effects

The one aspect of the trend towards atypical antipsychotics as treatment for post partum depression that is overlooked is the serious side effects that can occur. In fact, antipsychotics have been known to cause obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular problems.

But take a moment to look at the baby developing in the womb or the baby nursing from a mother on antidepressants…it’s crazy to think that the baby is unaffected by the ingestion of the drugs, isn’t it?

If nothing else, do it for your baby!

Another serious health concern is the occurrence of tardive dyskinesia, a movement disorder that is often permanent. It can cause painful muscle spasms, or irritate the sufferer to move around or pace. In severe cases it can permanently disable the afflicted person.

While some may view these claims as a scare tactic, the rate of those afflicted with tardive dyskinesia is increasing. The longer a patient is on antipsychotics the more risk they have of contracting this disease. Those who take these drugs for a couple of years run up to a 20% risk of becoming afflicted.

Harming our Children

While we do not exactly know the effect that psychiatric drugs have on a developing baby, either in the womb or nursing, we do know that there is an increase in the amount of issues reported by mothers with babies who were exposed to SSRIs. The journal Pediatrics issued a report based on a study done in February 2004 which recorded abnormal sleep patterns, heart rhythms and alertness levels in these babies. The long term effects of their exposure remains unknown but would not take much to intelligence to move to the next step and realize that the baby, either though development in the womb or by ingesting contaminated mother’s milk, is going to be affected.

The result of an increase in mothers being medicated unnecessarily will surely have extended negative effects on their children, as more and more babies are exposed to potentially harmful medications without knowing the consequences we jeopardize the future of our society and our world.

Vicious Cycle

In many instances the mothers who are prescribed these drugs do not find themselves feeling better; rather they embark on a long and difficult journey into the world of depression management. Medications are switch, adjusted and mixed together, resulting in a concoction that instead of improving the mothers quality of life instead leaves them feeling lost and hopeless. Even the mothers who do find relief in their prescriptions for depression may be left with lifelong disabilities like diabetes or heart disease.

Psychiatrists are also set to make a killing off of the Mother’s Act legislation, owing to the fact that their so-called ‘medication management’ sessions only take ten minutes and cost half as much as a full hour of psychotherapy, meaning that they are netting three time more money for their services.

The Bottom Line

The Mother’s Act promises to line the pockets of lobbyists, drug companies and health care professionals, while it does little to assist the focus of the legislation – the new mother who may be suffering.

Luckily the bill was stopped last year due to issues with wording; however it will not be long before a revised bill is brought back to congress. In the meantime families and health advocates should do what they can to educate and learn about what postpartum depression really looks like, and whether anti depressants are the best course of action, or just the easiest one…or the most profitable one.