Depression is treatable, but you need to seek help. Talk to your provider today.
Start by making the appointment to see your provider.
Use our checklist [PDF - 33KB] to help you and your provider talk about your experiences.
Take this completed checklist and give it to your provider or nurse. It will help both of you start the conversation.
Depression is real.
Depression is treatable.
You are not alone…talk to someone today.
This could be your family physician, obstetrician-gynecologist, nurse midwife, or any provider you feel most comfortable with.
If you already have an appointment scheduled, you’ve already taken the first step!
If you still need to make an appointment, here are some things to say during the first call—
“I haven’t been myself lately, and I’d like to talk to the provider about it.”
“I think I might have depression, and I’d like some help.”
Tell your provider about your concerns. Here are some ways you could start the conversation—
“I used this checklist, and I wonder if I have depression.”
"I read this information, and it sounds like how I feel. Can you help me find out if I have depression?”
“I don’t feel like myself. Could it be depression?"
Discuss how long you’ve had these feelings and any changes in your life and lifestyle. The provider will keep your information confidential.
Remember that depression is NOT YOUR FAULT. By asking for help, you are helping yourself and your family.
A mental health specialist is a professional who has received training in treating depression. Specialists might include psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, or counselors.
In response, your health care provider should—
- Carefully review your completed checklist.
- Ask several more questions about how you are feeling and acting.
- Talk with you about treatment options, or
- Provide the name and number of a mental health specialist for you to see.
Then, ask any questions you have. These may include—
- Do you think I have depression?
- What are the treatments for depression?
- Have you treated women for depression before?
- Would a mental health specialist be better able to help me?
If the provider prescribes an antidepressant for you, here are more questions you may have—
- Why did you pick that specific medication for me?
- How do I take this medicine?
- Are there side effects? What are they?
- How long before I can expect this treatment to help me feel better?
- How long do you think I will be on this treatment?
- When should I come back to see you again?
Be sure to let your provider know if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or trying to become pregnant. Only you and your provider can decide if taking medications while pregnant or breastfeeding is right for you.
I spoke to my provider, but she didn’t understand my concerns.
If you gave your provider the checklist and told him or her you’re concerned you might have depression, he or she should ask you several more questions and provide you with information about depression, just like with any other illness.
No provider should ignore you. Even if the provider doesn’t treat depression in his or her clinic, he or she should find someone who can help before you leave the clinic that day. It is possible the provider does not understand how bad you are feeling.
Be sure you are clear about your symptoms and how they are affecting you.
- Be open about the problems you are having. The provider cannot help you unless you are honest about your experiences and concerns.
- Use the checklist to identify which symptoms you have and how long you have had them.
- Let the provider know that you are struggling and need help.
I’m not sure my provider understands.
You can always ask to talk to someone else. Often there are other people in the office that have experience helping women with depression. These people might include nurse practitioners, nurses, social workers, or physicians. Ask the doctor or front desk staff—
“Is there someone else I can talk to about this? Maybe a nurse or social worker?”
“I’d like to see a mental health specialist. Can you or one of your assistants help me make an appointment with a specialist?”
I’m just not sure I can make that phone call.
Ask the nurse practitioner or other professional to be with you when you make the first call.
“I’m a little nervous about calling. Do you think you could help me call the specialist to set up my appointment?”
“I’m not sure I trust myself to actually make the call after I leave here today. Do you think you could help me with that?”
I’m very nervous about seeing a counselor. I’m not sure I want to go to the appointment.
Being a little nervous is normal. A mental health specialist understands that depression is a medical condition that can be effectively treated.
The specialist will not judge you or share your medical information with anyone else, but they cannot help unless you go to see them.
If you’re still concerned you might not keep the appointment, tell a trusted friend or family member about the appointment. Ask if they can go along with you or make sure you keep the appointment. Your provider may ask you to sign a release form so he or she can talk with the specialist, which can help the specialist determine the best treatment for you.
Here’s a quick list of things to bring to your appointment—
- A list of any medicines, vitamins, dietary supplements, or herbs you are taking.
- The names of any antidepressants you have taken in the past.
- The names of any therapists, social workers, or other professionals who might be helping you.
- The completed checklist.
This information will help you and your provider decide what treatments are best for you. You may want to bring a family member or friend with you to the appointment, too.
How can I help my friend, partner, spouse, or relative who may be experiencing depression or postpartum depression?
If you know someone who is depressed, it affects you too. The first and most important thing you can do to help a friend or relative who has depression is to help her get an appropriate diagnosis and treatment. You may need to make an appointment at your friend’s or relative’s request and go with her to see the doctor. To learn more about helping someone else, visit the National Institute of Mental Health.
For more information on depression
- Depression fact sheet (womenshealth.gov)
- Women and Depression: Discovering Hope (National Institutes of Health)
Provides detailed information from the National Institute of Mental Health that describes depression symptoms, causes, and treatments, with information on getting help and coping.
For more information on postpartum depression
- Postpartum Depression fact sheet | Spanish fact sheet (womenshealth.gov)
- Postpartum Depression (MedlinePlus)
- Depression During and After Pregnancy: A Resource for Women, Their Families, and Friends A booklet on perinatal depression released by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) contains tips on identifying the condition in mothers and offers six steps to help treat it successfully. Perinatal depression includes a broad range of physical and emotional symptoms that many women face during pregnancy or within a year following the birth of a child.
- Postpartum Support International (PSI)
- The PSI Warmline (800-944-4PPD) is a toll-free telephone number anyone can call to get basic information and resources. Dial extension 1 for Spanish and extension 2 for English. The Warmline is answered Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Pacific. You are always welcome to leave a confidential message any time; however, and your call will be returned as soon as possible.
- PSI offers information on how to contact PSI area coordinators, crisis hotlines, and support groups. PSI has specialized coordinators for Dads, Military Families, and Spanish-speaking families. More information is available at http://www.postpartum.net/Get-Help/Support-Resources-Map-Area-Coordinators.aspx
- PSI offers free weekly phone chats led by informed and caring professionals. The sessions are offered Wednesday via an 800 number, and provide information and contact for those struggling with postpartum depression. In addition, PSI offers free weekly phone chats for men on Mondays. Experts from PSI are on the calls to provide information about resources, symptoms, options, and general information about perinatal mood disorders. There is no need to pre-register, and sessions are open to anyone with questions and concerns about themselves, a loved one, friend or family member. More information is available at http://www.postpartum.net/Resources/PSI-Chat-with-an-Expert.aspx
Listen to Podcast
Postpartum depression (PPD) occurs in up to one fifth of women in the United States, and this broadcast discusses causes of PPD and treatments, including talk therapy and antidepressants. Listen now...