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Postpartum Depression Screening: When to Speak to Your Doctor About PPD

Welcoming a new addition to the family is a life-changing experience, but for some new parents, the weeks and months following birth, called the “postpartum period,” can bring unexpected challenges. Amidst the sleepless nights and the tender moments of bonding, there lies a lesser-discussed reality: the mental and emotional toll that can accompany childbirth. Often dismissed as the “baby blues,” Postpartum Depression (PPD) is a mental health condition that affects as many as 20% of new mothers, but less than half of PPD cases are diagnosed. The low diagnosis rates may be due to the stigma associated with PPD, which can make seeking help difficult. Understanding the process of identifying and screening for PPD and the crucial role it plays in supporting maternal mental health may help shed light on this vital aspect of postpartum care.
If you have concerns about PPD, immediately contact your Genesis OBGYN provider to get the help you need.

What is Postpartum Depression?

PPD is a mental health condition that affects new mothers and, less commonly, new fathers following the birth of a child. Around one in seven women who give birth develop PPD, and contrary to popular belief, PPD can occur anytime within the first year after childbirth. Sometimes, people can confuse PPD for the “baby blues,” but they are not the same thing. It isn’t uncommon to experience physical, emotional and mental changes directly following birth, such as anxiety, tiredness or general sadness. But if these feelings last longer than two weeks or intensify as time passes, that may be a sign of Postpartum Depression. 

PPD is a very serious matter; it can affect your behavior and physical health. If you are having a difficult time regulating your mood or feel extreme sadness, anger or anxiety, immediately seek help.

Signs and Symptoms of Postpartum Depression

In the middle of the late nights, feeding schedules and changing diapers, it’s easy to shrug off feelings of sadness or anxiety as a regular part of being a new parent. However, ignoring PPD can make the problem worse. Sadness is merely one sign of PPD; there are several others, including:

  • Feelings of intense anxiety
  • Loss of interest in activities you previously enjoyed 
  • Mood swings
  • Irritability
  • Overwhelmingly negative thoughts
  • Unusual crying or sadness
  • Loss of appetite or emotional eating

In some extreme cases, some mothers may develop feelings of violence or want to self-harm. It is frightening to have these feelings, and you may be afraid to share them, but they are a symptom of PPD and not an indication that you are a bad parent. Getting help is the most important thing you can do for yourself and your baby. Reach out to your partner, a loved one or a healthcare provider immediately if you have these feelings.

What is the Postpartum Depression Screening Test?

If you think you have PPD, your OBGYN will most likely perform a Postpartum Depression screening, which is a set of questions you answer to help figure out if you have PPD. A diagnosis means you can access treatment early and help prevent long-lasting depression. 

What is Postpartum Depression Screening for?

Postpartum depression screening helps diagnose the condition so it can be treated early. And early treatment can help prevent long-lasting depression. For some, it is a routine part of your postpartum check-in, and you be screened several times over a few months to catch depression symptoms that develop later.

What happens during a Postpartum Depression Screening Test?

During the screening, you will answer a set of questions provided by your doctor, either filling out a questionnaire or providing answers directly to your healthcare provider. Several PPD screening tools are available, but the most common is the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS), which includes ten questions about your mood, thoughts and feelings.

Do I need to prepare anything for the screening?

No, you will not need to prepare anything. For your well-being, answer the questions truthfully and tell your healthcare provider if you notice a change in your emotions or mood at home.

When to Talk to Your OBGYN About Postpartum Depression Screening

PPD is a serious mental condition–it does not mean you are a bad parent or that you have done something wrong. Having a child is a significant change, affecting new parents physically, mentally and emotionally. Most people with PPD get better with therapy or medication, and an early diagnosis along with treatment can help immensely in the long run. 

Do not suffer in silence; if you think you have PPD, contact your Genesis OBGYN provider immediately. We’ll recommend and provide compassionate healthcare services to support your physical and emotional well-being. Contact us to request an appointment today.

If you have thoughts about suicide or hurting yourself or your baby, get help right away:

  • Call 911 or go to your local emergency room
  • Contact a crisis hotline, such as the National Suicide and Crisis Lifeline 24/7 at:
    • Call or text 988
    • Chat online with the Lifeline Chat
    • TTY users: Use your preferred relay service or dial 711, then 988

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