Big news in the world of post-partum depression. Apparently, they’ve discovered that a “simple” blood test might be able to predict whether or not a woman is likely to experience it. This is apparently good:
If we know early on that a woman is at high risk to develop postpartum depression, then we can implement interventions before symptoms actually occur,” said lead researcher Ilona S. Yim, an assistant professor of psychology at the University of California, Irvine.
I read the article with a skeptical eye. As a rule, I think letting Mother Nature dictate things is better than too much scientific intervention. I gather being depressed (or suffering from wild mood swings) after a baby is a mostly normal, if annoying, part of the deal. I also understand that in some cases, severe post-partum depression requires professional intervention. But what I don’t like about a test like that is that it carries the risk of making women identified as likely PPD sufferers stress out unduly during their pregnancy, which isn’t great, especially for first-time moms. And what if you’re tagged but are in fact a false positive? Does the test result become some weird form of self-fulfilling prophecy? “The test,” the article explains, “misclassified about 25 percent of the women.”
But that’s not the worst:
If the findings can be replicated, then testing the level of this hormone might become standard care, Yim said.
“Postpartum depression affects so many women that it would be great to have something that would help to identify being at risk early on, and perhaps develop strategies to prevent it,” she said.
Women who know they are at risk for postpartum depression can take steps to reduce stress that might ward off the condition, Yim said. “They could take yoga classes and avoid severe stressors,” she said.
So after all this you’re meant to take yoga? Why not forget the blood test and advise every pregnant woman to avoid “severe stressors” and do something nice and relaxing (as long as it’s not getting a hot stone pedicure…) instead?by