Are You Asking the Right Questions?

To physicians and other healthcare practitioners:

Your perinatal patient may not be disclosing the extent to which she is suffering.
In addition to using the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS) or any other validated depression screen – (and regardless of what she scores, or how she looks/appears) –

If you are not asking these questions of each pregnant and postpartum patient, you do not know how she is feeling.

  • Is there anything on the screening (EPDS) you completed that you would like to discuss further?
  • Are you having thoughts that are scaring you?
  • Are you able to sleep when the baby sleeps?
  • Are you able to rest/relax when your baby is being cared for and monitored by someone else?
  • Are you worried about the way you are feeling or thinking?
  • Has anyone talked to you about postpartum depression and anxiety?
  • Do you feel you have adequate support at home?
  • Do you have a list of local resources for mental health professionals who are specially trained to understand and treat all perinatal mood and anxiety disorders?
  • Is there anything else you would like to tell me about the way you are feeling or the thoughts you are having?

Tips for professional and family support:

  • 1 out of 7 women experience a perinatal mood and anxiety disorder
  • Do not assume that if she looks good, she is fine.
  • Do not assume if she says she is “fine” that she is fine. Ask again.
  • Do not tell her it’s normal to feel this way after having a baby.
  • Do not assume this will get better on its own.
  • Do encourage her to get a comprehensive evaluation.
  • Do take her concerns seriously.
  • Do let her know you are there if she needs you.
  • Do talk about postpartum depression and anxiety.
  • Do provide list of local resources.
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