Motherhood is Not a Mental Illness: Bremner on TIME

(Note: I encourage everyone to send a letter of thanks to TIME and Catherine Elton at letters@time.com.)

In this post from yesterday on Before You Take That Pill, which Philip Dawdy picked up over at Furious Seasons, Emory researcher and psychiatrist Dr. Doug Bremner writes about The MOTHERS Act in response to TIME magazine’s article, “The Melancholy of Motherhood: Should All Moms Be Screened for Postpartum Depression?”

“[T]o screen all moms as if giving birth is a risk factor for depression is ridiculous. And whenever you start screening the general population, you get into problems with over-identification of people and an increase in the number of people that go on antidepressants.”

He continues:

In the case of Melanie Blocker-Stokes, she had already been treated with multiple courses of psychotropic drugs and electro-convulsive therapy, so there is no reason to think that her life would have been saved by “screening.” This legislation is typical of much that comes out of an individual tragedy, that results in an intrusion into the personal lives of individuals and the further relinqueshment of individual freedoms to the government.

The article quotes psychiatrist Katherine Wisner MD as stating ”how can you be opposed to something that will help mothers?” But an examination of the fine print from one of her articles here shows that she is on speakers bureaus for Pfizer and Lilly, makers of Zoloft and Prozac, respectively.

Catherine Elton did a fantastic job of showing both sides in a fair light. She tells the truth about the treatment given to Melanie Stokes, about my experience with Zoloft, and about screening. But this does not sit well with people who make a living marketing disorders to the public. Later on down the page in the comments section of Dr. Bremner’s blog, I get accused of paranoia and of being mentally ill by a woman named Gina Pera, whom I’d never heard of, and she also says that people like me shouldn’t get to have a say in what happens to our country:

We cannot make public-policy decisions based on the stories of people who have been diagnosed with mental health disorders and treated for them.

Sorry, but it’s true. Many mental health disorders limit objectivity, so these people are just not the best judges of what has been done to them and why. They can have their stories and they can share them. But we can’t make policy on this kind of hearsay and paranoia.

Okay, I’ve had enough of the anti-medication, anti-psychiatry, don’t-control-me crowd. It’s bad for my brain, and it seems to be swelling in ranks on the Internet. Good luck making your way in the dismal future that you are creating for others who could use — and would appreciate — legitimate psychiatric help, well administered.

OK, would she say the same for those advocating for The MOTHERS Act who are currently both diagnosed with a mental illness and taking drugs – that their experiences don’t get to count because they were diagnosed mentally ill? Or does mental illness magically disappear and the slate is wiped clean because you start taking drugs? If so, then I was never “mentally ill” because I was fine before Zoloft and apparently being on drugs makes you “sane” or eligible to participate in public debate. I expected to see comments from the folks from PSI but I guess I didn’t think about the fact that simply by opposing The MOTHERS Act in TIME Magazine, I would get to encounter disease mongerers for all of the DSM (“adult ADHD” anyone?) who go as far as attacking informed consent in order to defend all drugging schemes that they hear about.

Apparently I am “creating a dismal future” for our country just by telling my story? Sorry, U.S.A. That’s just my paranoia and selfishness you’re feeling from afar, when you think about your future and your mental health – it has nothing to do with your life situations.  Is there an anti-future-creation drug yet available? Maybe they should inject me with it. Thanks, Gina for a good laugh.

TIME Magazine’s piece on The MOTHERS Act is sure to draw a lot of people with varying levels of pro-pharma bias, and many anti-pharma survivors into this debate. But most importantly, people who would otherwise never think twice if their doctor hands them a prescription for psych drugs will see this article and perhaps be saved because of it. I can only hope that when people read the print version they will decide to get online and google me or The MOTHERS Act so that they can get some more warnings before accepting a diagnosis and meds. Information is the least people deserve.

Katherine Stone and her pro-drug friends from Postpartum Support International were not pleased with the TIME article. They’ve worked themseleves into a tizzy issuing an open letter attempting to discredit Catherine Elton’s piece. And to think I was upset because the print version had an error about me. If I were Catherine Elton I would be more than a little annoyed by the pathetic whining coming to my inbox complaining that I didn’t write the article the way the drug industry front groups had hoped.

They’ve really got their panties in a wad. Apparently telling my story in TIME is a “disservice” to the country, and they “skip facts” when stating that there is dissent about this issue.

Nevermind the fact that between 2004 and 2008 FDA MedWatch collected 1,031 reports of miscarriages, abortions, and other prenatal and neonatal deaths caused by psychotropic drugs. Nevermind the 4,154 cases of suicidal depression reported to MedWatch for Psychotropic drugs from 2004-2006, along with 2,911 Attempted suicides, 4,260 completed suicides, 2,452 other deaths not from suicide, 434 cases of Homicidal Ideation, 195 Homicides, and 1,098 cases of Mania.

An anti-information campaign letter posted on a blog of a woman who worked for Cohn & Wolfe (a PR firm employed by pharma) with 43 signatures, including that of George Parnham (attorney for Andrea Yates), who advocates with PSI for lesser sentences for infanticide, should somehow top the 53 groups, 12,588 petition signatures, and 2,311 members of the Facebook Coalition against the bill? Why? Because they proclaimed themselves the final authority and followed up their names with long titles.

I’m betting PSI would love it if nobody ever wrote about The MOTHERS Act without running it through them first. Do they speak for all psychologists? All psychiatrists? As evidenced by the post on Dr. Bremner’s blog, Dr. Grace Jackson’s work, Dr. David Healy’s work, and the activism of Dr. Michael Zampardi, Dr. John Breeding, Dr. Peter Breggin, and the ICSPP, as well as countless other psychologists, midwives, doctors, psychiatrists, and mothers selflessly working to educate the public about the risks of psychotropic drugs or to prevent this dagnerous Act from becoming Law, I think not.

Without referring to me by name, Katherine and her co-signators say that they feel bad about my story – which they believe is a rare adverse event.

“We are terribly sorry about the experience of the one mother quoted in your article, which happens on rare occasions, but we believe that the MOTHERS Act would actually go a long way to prevent what happened to her.”

Not that I want half-hearted “sympathy” from people who can’t bring themselves to speak my name, but thank you for the apology. I can only wonder if they also feel guilty for all the “rare” moms out there who are suffering because of medication, since their letter gushes about how great screening and medication are.

“As Time reported in June, the National Academies fully endorses screening for parental depression and believes it is crucial, while also emphasizing that screening is not helpful unless there is effective follow up and treatment tied to it.”

[emphasis mine]

In case you didn’t notice, Katherine stone now emphasizes and refers to screening for parental depression rather than perinatal depression, and makes a point that treatment must follow screening.

I wonder when they’ll apologize about all the dead and injured babies they have helped to drug? Perhaps not unless and until the media pays attention to their stories as well.

As I wrote in my letter to the editor of TIME, which I will share later in a separate post, anyone who wants more information should email me and I can refer you to the FDA MedWatch Adverse Event Reports to help you get all the facts.


In the comments below the “Time Magazine Skips Facts” nonsense on Postpartum Progress, this is what AbleChild had to say:

Ablechild said…
Thank God for Time Magazine, I understand the “Expert” that was quoted in the article has ties to the drug companies. Considering the Subjective Nature and the lack of an accurate test, I find it interesting that you all would get so upset about people who would actually oppose the Mother’s Act.

Well you can count our organization into the camp that opposes such a far reaching grasp of parental rights! Great Going Time Magazine! It is about time the underdogs reeived a fair hearing! Informed Consent consists of all the information, the good, the bad, and the ugly. Why not promote all the deaths associated with your proposed mental health treatments. Andrea Yates was treated and look at what she did to her kids! Stop Promoting Misleading and dangerous treatments. With great respect for human rights and free will of man!

Don’t forget to send a letter of thanks to TIME. Honest journalism is most definitely not dead.

Stay tuned.

8 thoughts on “Motherhood is Not a Mental Illness: Bremner on TIME

  1. Amy, you’re just not getting it. You see, in the wonderful, logical world of psychiatry, if a person does not agree that they’re ill, why, that’s even MORE proof that they are ill. It’s actually a symptom– called anosognosia- “lack of insight”, which Gina refers to as “lack of objectivity”. Also, in the world of psychiatry, any harmful thoughts or feelings resulting from your drugging are “unmasking an underlying mental illness”, but any joy or calm you may feel in your life, well, that’s just proof the drugs are working, and how much worse off would you be without them? You don’t want to risk it.

    Get it? Bad things, rubber… good things, glue. [heavy sarcasm, in case someone out there doesn’t get it]

    1. Well, since Zoloft turned me into a Zombie, there was pretty much nothing good to glue it to my life. I kicked it to the curb. But yes, I get it… And your comment is well received.

  2. Excellent follow up to the Time article. I only wish you had a bigger pulpit, but it’s harder for the underdog to get heard. In an oligarchy like ours, the rich have the loudest voice, which means that PhRMA always shouts. Keep up the grassroots attempt to disrupt with truth the marketing spin that PhRMA and their allies are spewing.

  3. It is bad that people make decisions about what should be done to some they label as being “mentally ill” and then when those same people voice opinions, they say those opinions don’t count because the people are psychiatrically labeled. People should make decisions about things that affect their bodies and minds. Those critics who are not taking those psychiatric drugs have not experienced what goes on with them.

  4. Thank you Time Magazine for the willingness to stand up to the biggest money machine in history.
    Their propaganda force will of course bury the truth of your article. But little by little the truth will emerge. The well being of mothers and children hang in the balance.

    1. Did you see the link automatically generated above, to the blog entry, “TIME misfires debate on MOTHERS Act?” http://unexpectedblessing.wordpress.com/2009/07/12/time-magazine-misfires-debate-on-mothers-act/

      Apparently the anti-information campaign now includes urging people, “HEY, GO READ THE ORIGINAL TIME MAGAZINE ARTICLE, NOT THE ONE THAT HAS THE ALTERATIONS ONLINE” and “Go to your doctor’s office and remove TIME Magazine so other women won’t see it” and “I am asking you to boycott TIME Magazine.” Courtesy of Lauren Hale.

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