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Talking to Your Doctor About Peripartum Mental Health

Pregnancy and childbirth can be a time of joy and excitement, but it can also be a time of significant stress and anxiety for new mothers. Peripartum mental health concerns, such as depression, anxiety, and OCD, are not uncommon and can have serious impacts on the well-being of both the mother and the child. Seeking help and talking to a doctor about these concerns can be a crucial step in getting the support and care that is needed.


Here are some tips for talking to your doctor about peripartum mental health concerns:


1) Be honest about your feelings: It can be difficult to talk about mental health concerns, but it's important to be honest with your doctor about how you are feeling. Your doctor is there to help and can only provide the best care if they have a full understanding of your symptoms.


2) Bring up the topic yourself: Doctors may not always ask about mental health concerns, so it's important to bring up the topic yourself. This can be done during regular prenatal or postpartum appointments or by scheduling a separate appointment specifically to discuss mental health concerns.


3) Be specific about your symptoms: It can be helpful to keep a journal of your symptoms and how they are affecting your daily life. This can help you be specific when talking to your doctor about your concerns. Symptoms to look out for include feelings of sadness, anxiety, irritability, trouble sleeping, and loss of interest in activities you previously enjoyed.


4) Discuss treatment options: There are many different treatment options available for peripartum mental health concerns, including therapy, medication, and lifestyle changes. Your doctor can help you decide on the best course of treatment based on your individual needs and preferences.


5) Follow up with your doctor: It's important to continue to see your doctor regularly and to follow up on any treatment recommendations. This can help ensure that you are getting the care and support you need to manage your mental health concerns.


Remember, seeking help for peripartum mental health concerns is a sign of strength, not weakness. By talking to your doctor and getting the support and care that you need, you can improve your overall well-being and better care for yourself and your child.


References:


American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. (2018). Committee Opinion No. 736: Optimizing Postpartum Care. Obstetrics and gynecology, 131(5), e140-e150.


Kendell, R. E., Chalmers, J. C., & Platz, C. (1987). Epidemiology of puerperal psychoses. British Journal of Psychiatry, 150(6), 662-673.


Wisner, K. L., Sit, D. K. Y., McShea, M. C., Rizzo, D. M., Zoretich, R. A., Hughes, C. L., ... & Hanusa, B. H. (2013). Onset timing, thoughts of self-harm, and diagnoses in postpartum women with screen-positive depression findings. Jama psychiatry, 70(5), 490-498.

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