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.