Postpartum depression is not always easy to spot. At times, it can sneak up on women with more subtle signs and symptoms. But once recognized it is important that postpartum depression is dealt with appropriately and that women receive all the help and support that this condition requires.

What is postpartum depression

Feelings of postpartum depression are intense and last longer than those of “baby blues.” Baby blues are described as feelings of worry, sadness, and tiredness many women experience after having a baby. The symptoms of “Baby blues” usually resolve on their own after a few days. Postpartum depression does not.

Symptoms of postpartum depression include one or more of the following:

  • Crying more often than usual.
  • Feelings of anger.
  • Feeling numb or disconnected from your baby.
  • Worrying that you will hurt the baby.
  • Feeling guilty about not being a good mom or doubting your ability to care for the baby.

It’s important to take these symptoms seriously and speak to your doctor if you notice them in yourself or others.

How to get help

Talking about postpartum depression can be difficult. Most women are reluctant to bring up their experience of these symptoms and may at times feel like they should be able to handle these issues on their own. Furthermore, feelings of guilt or even the ability to recognize what these symptoms mean are other barriers to having these important discussions. The following are a few ideas on how to speak to your doctor about postpartum depression.

1. Choose a medical professional that you are comfortable with.

Ideally this should be someone that you have a good pre-existing relationship with. This will make difficult conversations less daunting. This individual doesn’t have to be your family doctor. It can be your OBGYN, a nurse or even your child’s pediatrician.

2. Make a list of questions that you would like to ask or things you want to speak about.

No question is too silly to ask and no issue is off limits. These questions or conversations should all be things you genuinely want to talk about. Conversations should center around you -your thoughts, feelings and emotions.

3. What to talk about and how

When talking about postpartum depression you can start by telling your doctor or nurse the symptoms that you have been experiencing and for how long. This is a good way to start the conversation.

4. Do a little online research

There are many great resources out there to help women deal with postpartum depression. These include:

Following that, you can talk about what your day-to-day emotions look like and what your routine entails. Are you usually tired and fatigued? Do you have feelings of guilt or think that you’re not being a good parent?

Let your doctor know if you are having scary thoughts or symptoms that are frightening. Any emotion you’re experiencing is a valid one to share.

5. If your doctor suggests antidepressant medication, ask questions about it.

You have a right to know about what medications are for, how long your doctor thinks you might need it and what the possible side effects are. Medications are not prescribed for everyone but they may be helpful in some cases.

Lastly, don’t let anyone minimize your thoughts or feelings. If you encounter a provider that seems dismissive or disinterested then consider speaking to another healthcare provider or asking for a referral to a therapist. You have the right to speak to someone that will help and support you through this difficult time.