Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Depression Screening for Pregnant Women

I was really happy to see that The American Congress of Obstetrics and Gynecologists (ACOG) has recommended that all pregnant women be screened for mental health issues. This is a great sign. Women need to understand that they're not weird and that hormones can--and often do--wreak havoc on a woman's body and mind.

I don't know about the screenings. The article mentioned several possible questionnaires that health care providers can use. I imagine the questions are fairly typical depression related.

My hope is that they're also looking at pre- and post-natal anxiety which can present much differently than depression. For example, if doctors would have asked me, "are you having trouble getting up in the morning, bonding with your baby? Do you want to hurt your baby?" I would have answered, "no."

But questions along the lines of, "Are you having trouble leaving your baby in the care of others? Do you have intrusive images of hurting your baby?" My answer would have been "Yes."

But only,"yes" if I felt like I could trust the person asking. It's possible I would have downplayed the whole thing for fear of having my baby taken from me. In other words, my anxiety would have impeded my need for help with my anxiety.

Trust was a huge issue for me back in my postpartum days. I hope health care providers understand that when a patient is in the thick of it, they can and will do some seemingly strange, seemingly counterproductive things to avoid upsetting their world. I hope they understand that trust isn't always easily earned but it is imperative to the getting help.

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