Is elevated stress related to pregnancy a new target in the mass medicalization of normalcy in America?
Headed by researcher Tina Bloom at the University of Missouri, a new study attempts to show that low-income pregnant women in rural areas experience "high levels of stress" and lack the means to manage themselves, jeopardizing their health and the well-being of their baby. The stress of pregnancy can even kill babies, warned Ms. Bloom.
Tina Bloom also stated that rural life is not so idyllic and peaceful as many people think. According to Ms. Bloom, people in rural areas lack access to resources, so doctors should evaluate women during prenatal visits and hand them off to community mental health resources.
I called Tina Bloom in my capacity as a Natural News columnist and left a voice mail on her direct line at the University of Missouri. I stated that I was concerned that studies of this type might lead too many people into the care of the medical profession for problems that are best addressed elsewhere.
I also explained my concerns, given the widespread use of pharmaceuticals, that pregnant women and their unborn babies do not need more exposure to drugs. When medical doctors are involved, drugs are usually involved.
I wanted to give her a chance to respond, but Ms. Bloom did not return the call. Here is what I imagine her response would be:
"Yes, well, no one wants to prescribe unnecessary medication, that's for sure. I'm actually in favor of mind-body approaches to stress reduction. Didn't you read my suggested solutions for stress?"
"Yes, but you see, you are suggesting that medical doctors evaluate their patients for psychological stress. Don't you think that the doctors would just prescribe medication? Isn't that the path of least resistance here? Doctors typically believe that medication is the most effective route, anyway. And if they do refer out, won't it be to a psychiatrist, another doctor?"
"Psychiatrists are doctors of the mind, sir. I think they know what they are doing."
"Really, the guys who invented the ice pick lobotomy, electroshock therapy and a number of other brain frying psycho-surgeries, including.....hello?"
Other concerns with the study are that only 25 women were interviewed, who revealed sources of stress such as unemployment, lack of transportation, difficulty finding affordable housing, small town gossip and family difficulties - all things that qualify for a medical diagnosis these days, I suppose.
In other words, these women are experiencing normal challenges in life during a particularly challenging time. How can communities best support them? That is a great question. More diagnoses and medications are not the solution. But you already knew that...
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