Depression in Pregnancy

Andrew Solomon has published an adaptation of a new final chapter to his book, Noonday Demon in today’s New York Times magazine. After a dramatic and sad opening the pieces settles into the an exploration of the lethality and stigma of depression in pregnancy, and the risks and benefits of medicating depression during pregnancy — it’s not as obvious as you might think. Bottom line? There are no easy answers. It’s really thoughtful piece. Recommended.

Advertisements

“we’ve had a lot of trouble with western mental health workers…”

Oh?

They would do this bizarre thing. They didn’t take people out into the sunshine where they would begin to feel better. They didn’t include drumming or music to get their blood going. They didn’t involve the whole community. They didn’t externalize the depression as an invasive spirit. Instead what they did was they took people, one at a time into dingy little rooms and made them talk for an hour about bad things that had happened to them!

A Rwandan, speaking to Andrew Solomon, author of Noonday Demon (previous two posts).

On the East Side of Los Angeles? Need to get out of your dingy little room? Why not pick up a copy of the book at a local bookstore? Get out of the house!

Some options:

Skylight Books (Los Feliz)

Alias Books East (Atwater)

Stories (Echo Park)

“There is no point treating a depressed person as though she were just feeling sad, saying, ‘There now, hang on, you’ll get over it.’ Sadness is more or less like a head cold- with patience, it passes. Depression is like cancer.” ― Barbara Kingsolver, The Bean Trees

Emily Dickinson on Depression

She really gets it right. Andrew Solomon (previous post) opened his Ted talk by quoting it.

I felt a Funeral, in my Brain, (340)

BY EMILY DICKINSON

I felt a Funeral, in my Brain,
And Mourners to and fro
Kept treading – treading – till it seemed
That Sense was breaking through –
And when they all were seated,
A Service, like a Drum –
Kept beating – beating – till I thought
My mind was going numb –
And then I heard them lift a Box
And creak across my Soul
With those same Boots of Lead, again,
Then Space – began to toll,
As all the Heavens were a Bell,
And Being, but an Ear,
And I, and Silence, some strange Race,
Wrecked, solitary, here –
And then a Plank in Reason, broke,
And I dropped down, and down –
And hit a World, at every plunge,
And Finished knowing – then –

Kay Redfield Jamison on Depression

Others imply that they know what it is like to be depressed because they have gone through a divorce, lost a job, or broken up with someone. But these experiences carry with them feelings. Depression, instead, is flat, hollow, and unendurable. It is also tiresome. People cannot abide being around you when you are depressed. They might think that they ought to, and they might even try, but you know and they know that you are tedious beyond belief: you are irritable and paranoid and humorless and lifeless and critical and demanding and no reassurance is ever enough. You’re frightened, and you’re frightening, and you’re “not at all like yourself but will be soon,” but you know you won’t.
Kay Redfield Jamison, An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness

Kay, who is a psychiatrist, wrote about her experience with bipolar disorder. It’s a fascinating account of someone in the profession who also had to come to terms with the stigma of mental illness. She was quite wary of disclosing to colleagues, and when she did it was often with mixed results.

“That’s the thing about depression: A human being can survive almost anything, as long as she sees the end in sight. But depression is so insidious, and it compounds daily, that it’s impossible to ever see the end.” ― Elizabeth Wurtzel, Prozac Nation