** If you are having thoughts of harming yourself or your baby, please seek immediate medical attention. Call 911 or drive yourself to your nearest emergency department and leave your baby in the care of a loved one. **
To find out more about what resources are available where you live, find a Postpartum Support International Coordinator here: https://www.postpartum.net/get-help/locations/ or text them at 503-894-9453.
Though we’re still lacking proper health care for women and men dealing with a potential maternal mental illness, here’s what you can do to get help in the meantime:
1. TALK TO SOMEONE YOU TRUST
If you think you may have a maternal mental illness, or if you’re just feeling off and not sure what’s happening to you, don’t keep your feelings to yourself. Tell someone you trust like your partner or a friend. Since universal screening doesn’t exist currently, (but kudos to the health care providers who are doing it anyway!) the onus is on moms to notice that something doesn’t feel right and when you’re a new mother dealing with sleepless nights and caring for a new baby, it’s hard to distinguish whether you’re suffering from a maternal mental illness or just adjusting to new motherhood. There is a difference and while both situations deserve attention and help, one is a result of a physical, biological illness that requires medical attention and treatment.
2. MAKE AN APPOINTMENT TO SEE YOUR FAMILY DOCTOR / PRIMARY HEALTH CARE PROVIDER
While your partner or your friend may be amazingly supportive and give you all kinds of advice, they are not medical professionals so the next thing to do is to make an appointment to see your family doctor / primary health care provider.
Hopefully, they will properly assess you (perhaps using the Edinburgh Postpartum Depression Scale, which, take note, doesn’t properly address postpartum anxiety which is more prevalent than postpartum depression).
If you’re diagnosed with a maternal mental illness such as postpartum depression or anxiety, you may be prescribed medication and/or therapy. Your doctor may refer you to a psychiatrist that specializes in maternal mental health.
There may be a wait list and they may ask if you can afford to pay for a private psychotherapist.
Some hospitals have perinatal mental health programs such as (Women’s College Hospital and Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto) your doctor can refer you but these are mostly found in urban areas, however, many of them have virtual supports set up.
** And if your health care provider isn’t taking you seriously, switch to another one! **
3. FIND OTHER MOMS THAT GET IT
If there’s a maternal mental health support group in your area or online, join it! Make sure to join CPMHC Co-founder, Patricia Tomasi’s 24/7 Postpartum Depression & Anxiety Facebook Support Group with thousands of women from around the world experiencing varying degrees of maternal mental illness. Patricia started the group back when she was diagnosed and couldn’t find anyone to talk to at 3 am. It’s a private, closed group with no judgment and no advertising or selling whatsoever.