More than a few moms on our Facebook page have mentioned being too afraid to ask for help for PPD. They don’t want to be fully honest, as I suggested they should be in a recent story, when telling a doctor exactly what they are thinking or feeling.
There were stories of fearing being judged, fearing being unnecessarily hospitalized, fearing being visited by Child Protective Services. Some women actually had these things happen after reaching out for help. How do you protect yourself?
These are very fair questions, given the fact that it is true that not every healthcare provider is properly trained to understand and effectively identify and treat perinatal mood disorders like PPD. It is. Some people are wonderful, and some people really blow it. Badly.
I have an answer for this. Wherever possible, work with an advocate. Advocates are people who’ve spent a lot of time helping moms who have postpartum depression, postpartum anxiety, postpartum psychosis, postpartum PTSD, and depression in pregnancy. They know what resources are available. They know who is well-trained, and who has been working with PPD moms for a long time, and who provides excellent care.
If you don’t have a great relationships with your doctor, be they a primary care provider, OB, or pediatrician, and if you don’t feel completely safe with that person, you don’t have to call them first. You can call an advocate.
I’m telling you now that most of these people care deeply about moms with postpartum depression. Many of them have had PPD themselves. They are volunteers, which means they have chosen to spend their free time helping pregnant and new moms without pay because this issue means that much to them. They are on your side.
Here is who you can call:
1. Postpartum Support International has a toll-free number: 1-800-944-4PPD. It’s not always answered live, but I promise you that you can feel very safe leaving a message there and someone will call you back.
2. Even better, check out their Get Help page. Just click on the state in which you live and you’ll see a list of local people and what city they’re in, and you can call or email them to find out where to get good help. If you don’t live in the exact same city as the coordinator listed, that’s okay. Just call (or email) the person who is nearest to you, even if that person lives many miles away. They can let you know who in your area is a good person to go see.
Know that someone with a lot of experience with PPD is not always close by. I know that is frustrating, but you have options. You can still go see your regular doctor, or if it’s really important to you to see someone who is more of a specialist, you can decide it’s worth the drive.
3. You can check out our page featuring local PPD support organizations. We list them for the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, England, Scotland, Ireland, and South Africa (at least the ones we’re aware of anyway; if you see one that should be listed that isn’t let us know and we’ll take a look). People in your own state are very often in the best position to know about all the resources there, from support groups to events to great physicians and therapists. For example, there’s the Postpartum Resource Center of New York, Baby Blues Connection in Oregon, and Postpartum Support Virginia. Call them. They want to hear from you.
4. You can also check out our list of postpartum depression treatment programs. If you’re lucky enough to have one nearby, these places are staffed by some of the top experts on postpartum depression and related illnesses.
When you’re afraid, the thing to do is talk to people who know what they’re doing. An advocate can help get you on the right track.