Postpartum anxiety and depression often make it hard to leave the house, take care of the baby or even pick up the phone. Sometimes the illness makes it nearly impossible to think clearly. If you need someone to talk to, there are many resources to call on—at any time. In the meantime, here are some tips for common questions and concerns
If you’re worried about dark or graphic thoughts you’re having and you know they're wrong, that’s a good sign—it does not mean you don’t love your baby. It happens frequently to good mothers struggling with depression and anxiety. Sharing these kind of thoughts, often called “intrusive” thoughts, with someone you trust can bring some relief. These thoughts are not who you are, they are a symptom of the disorder and often respond well to medication and/or supportive talk therapy.
Here's a few tips that may help:
- Try talking on the phone before meeting face to face.
- Some therapists and psychiatrists are very open to phone communication and can manage your treatment through a blend of this and in-person treatment.
- If you’re still not ready to reach out for professional help, contact us and we can help you navigate this process. Remember, we’ve been there.
Medication is a common first-line treatment for moms with moderate to severe PPD, but some women are afraid of side effects and risks. For some, the risk of not taking medication can be worse than the risk of taking them. Medication addresses the brain chemistry that has been altered by PPD/PPA. Most side effects, if any, get better as your body adjusts to the medication. You can work closely with your doctor to address any bothersome sensations or reactions while on medication.
The point is to make you feel better, not worse. Of course, if you’re adverse to drugs of any kind, there are alternate therapies and treatments for you and your doctor to explore.
- If your doctor won’t help you or doesn’t take your concerns seriously, find another doctor.
- If the treatment plan you’re on doesn’t seem to be working, be honest with your doctor and tell him/her you NEED to feel better and want to know what other options there are.
A few things to try:
- Keep calling and make your needs known.
- Have a friend or family member call for you.
- Sometimes doctors respond quicker when they hear someone reaching out on your behalf.
- Request to speak to the nurse or physician’s assistant.
- If your OB doesn’t respond, try your general practitioner or your baby’s pediatrician at the next check-up.
Doctors don’t always agree on the definition, understand or recognize the wide range of symptoms of these disorders. Your partner and family might not “get it” or understand the seriousness of the situation. Friends may be afraid to bring up their concerns. But if you feel something is “just not right,” it is important that you communicate this to someone. Please contact us to help you navigate the next steps for getting help and getting your voice heard.
- You can bring your baby or arrange for childcare during your appointment.
- Bring a list of your concerns and medications in a notebook so you can also take notes on what the doctor says.
- Be vocal and specific about how you’re feeling and how it’s affecting your daily life with the baby.
- You can bring along someone you trust to help listen to the doctor, take notes and answer questions.
- Often other moms are happy to help and be supportive, so don’t be afraid to ask.
- Clarify next steps with the doctor so you leave the appointment feeling you have the information you need.
- Of course, you can always call back with follow-up questions.
If someone has offered to help you in some way, this is a good opportunity to take them up on a home cooked meal, babysitting services, keeping you company, or helping around the house.
Research PPD and PPA before you talk to the doctor, so you can ask specific questions and bring up any concerns.
Think about what you’re going to say and even write down key details you don’t want to forget.
Get peer support. Talking with other moms who have been there may be just what you need to make it until your next appointment.
- Express the urgency and seriousness of your condition.
- Be honest and descriptive to the best of your ability about what you’re feeling.
- More than saying “I think I have PPD,” explain details of why you think that.
When you call, mention these three things:
1. Tell them, “I believe I am experiencing PPD.”
2. Describe your symptoms in detail (“I can’t sleep when the baby is sleeping, I feel panicked all the time, I feel hopeless and scared.”)
3. Make a specific request of what you want. For example, “I want the doctor to call me back today” or “I need to see the doctor today or tomorrow, it is urgent.”
Wondering when the treatment will start working is the most common question we get. Every person is different in their treatment plan and their recovery. Factors such as how long you’ve suffered from PPD, the severity of symptoms, efficiency and effectiveness of your healthcare providers, and following your treatment plan precisely all come into play. When a person receives effective and appropriate treatment (e.g., medication, therapy, support), recovery happens quicker. Recovery is not an overnight process, but it will happen. Try to be patient and slowly the good days will outnumber the bad days.
Your OB, GP or other doctor you trust is a good start.
If taking medication, we recommend seeking a psychiatrist or psychiatric nurse practitioner who can monitor your long-term care and help with issues that may arise.
If you have a therapist you have had success with in the past, contact them.
Check out our list of providers to find a referral you can trust.