Meditate on this Marianne Williamson: it’s irresponsible to put your financial health ahead of women’s mental health


One of themes of this blog is that natural parenting renders women’s needs invisible. Whether it’s childbirth, breastfeeding, or attachment parenting, women’s pain, distress and mental health are ignored.

Why? Follow the money. Natural childbirth advocates ignore women’s pain in labor because they can’t treat it effectively; lactivists ignore women’s pain, frustration and inconvenience with exclusive breastfeeding because to accept it might mean a loss of market share; attachment parenting advocates ignore women’s mental health because that might cut into profits for the books and products that they sell.

[pullquote align=”right” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]Postpartum depression is a disease not a mood change.[/pullquote]

But as Marianne Williamson demonstrates, natural parenting advocates are hardly alone in rendering women’s need invisible while clawing for market share.

Yesterday on her Facebook page, Williamson, a self described “acclaimed author and spiritual teacher” offer this bit of ugliness:

U.S. Preventive Services Task Force says women should be “screened for depression” during and after pregnancy. Their answer, of course, is to “find the right medication.” And how many on the “Task Force” are on big pharma’s payroll? Follow the money on this one. Hormonal changes during and after pregnancy are NORMAL. Mood changes are NORMAL. Meditation helps. Prayer helps. Nutritional support helps. Love helps.

Wialliamson’s ignorant, self serving justification for minimizing the seriousness of postpartum depression has not gone unnoticed. Suffers of postpartum depression and those who care about them have created a social media campaign on Twitter with the hashtag #MeditateOnThis, seeking to educate Williamson. Thus far it appears to be having little effect on Williamson herself.

Why did the USPSTF recommend screening for postpartum depression?

… Depression is … common in postpartum and pregnant women and affects not only the woman but her child as well.

What’s the advantage of early detection by screening?

… [P]rograms combining depression screening with adequate support systems in place improve clinical outcomes (ie, reduction or remission of depression symptoms) in adults, including pregnant and postpartum women.

… [T]reatment of with antidepressants, psychotherapy, or both decreases clinical morbidity.

… [T]reatment with cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) improves clinical outcomes in pregnant and postpartum women with depression.

Williamson derides the USPSTF screening program as an effort to increase Big Pharma profits. Curiously, she fails to note the the Task Force recommended talk therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy as often as medication. And she fails to note that the Task Force highlighted the risks of medication for depression.

… [S]econd-generation antidepressants (mostly selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors [SSRIs]) are associated with some harms, such as an increase in suicidal behaviors in adults … The USPSTF found evidence of potential serious fetal harms from pharmacologic treatment of depression in pregnant women, but the likelihood of these serious harms is low…

Why does Williamson oppose the recommendations to screen women for postpartum depression? Follow the money. Women who are depressed are more likely to buy her books and attend her seminars. Screening women for depression and treating them with effective therapy undercuts her market share.

Williamson no different from natural childbirth advocates who insist that childbirth pain is “normal,” that treatment with ineffective methods that they profit from (waterbirth, hypnotherapy) is best, and that effectively treating it with epidurals is “giving in.” Williamson insists that the pain of postpartum depression is also “normal,” that treating it with meditation and prayer (her products) is best, and that effectively treating it with medication is “giving in” to Big Pharma.

Williams is a New Age “faith healer,” putting her needs ahead of effective treatment. She’s the updated version of those who advised prayer for diabetes or insisted that epilepsy was a sign of possession by the Devil. Her profit is more important to her than women’s need to live free of psychological pain.

I suggest that she meditate on this:

Postpartum depression is NOT a normal hormonal change.

Postpartum depression is NOT a normal mood change.

Postpartum depression is a disease, no different from diabetes or epilepsy.

While prayer and meditation may help manage the symptoms, they are not a treatment for postpartum depression any more than they are a treatment for diabetes or epilepsy.

Women’s needs MATTER. Women have every bit as much right to live without psychological pain as to live without physical pain.

Most importantly, women’s mental health is more important than your financial health.

I took your advice to follow the money, Marianne Williamson, and it led me right to your bank account. You’re like the natural parenting industry: your profits rest on demonizing what you can’t offer and promoting what you can, women’s needs be damned.