Consult a medical professional for a full diagnosis. Talk to an obstetrician/gynecologist, general practitioner, or a mental health professional. Doctors will also rule out medical conditions, such as thyroid imbalance and anemia, which are fairly common in the postpartum period and can contribute to feelings of depression and lethargy.
Health professionals may use screening tools to assess whether a woman is suffering from postpartum depression and anxiety, including:
- Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS – pdf)
- Postpartum Depression Screening Scale (PDSS) [this tool should be administered by a doctor]
These are short questionnaires that help assess how a mother is feeling. Doctors use these types of screening tools because they provide an opportunity for a new mother to think about herself as well as giving the physician an opportunity to talk about psychological distress.
Some hospitals and birthing centers use these tools to screen new mothers before they are discharged. Obstetricians may use these screening tools at a woman’s postpartum check-up. Psychiatrists may use these questionnaires when diagnosing and treating patients.
The most successful treatment plan for postpartum depression and pregnancy-related mood disorders includes:
- Self-care including sleep, nutrition, deep breathing exercises, and time away from baby
- A complete medical examination (some medical conditions, such as a thyroid imbalance and anemia, are fairly common in the postpartum period and can contribute to feelings of depression and lethargy)
- A psychiatric evaluation
- Talk therapy with a psychologist, counselor, or social worker
- Participation in a support group
- Self-help techniques
- Medication when necessary