Ready to Admit I Am Depressed and Seek Help, but I Don't Know Where to Start

Updated on April 09, 2010
O.O. asks from Pittsburgh, PA
20 answers

My mother has been raving about this site for a year and I finally decided to join. Here is my first question:

I have come to the realization that I am depressed. This is not post-partem depression. My son just turned 2. I have had the symptoms my whole life, but they seem to be escalating lately. I don't want my son to grow up with a depressed mother, so I am ready to seek professional help. But where do I start? I don't have a family doctor. In fact I have not been to a doctor since my 6 week post-partem check up with my gynie. Do I find a family doctor and start there or do I go straight to a psychologist? And my biggest concern is this: I still breastfeed my son at nap and bed-time. Can I take anti-depressents while breastfeeding? Thanks for any advice you can give me.

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So What Happened?

Thank you all for the out-pouring of support! my mom was right, this site is great! You all made me feel so much better. I called my insurance company and they told me to go straight to a therapist. They gave me a list, and I picked one and have an appointment tomorrow. I feel better already just knowing that I am doing something about this. Thank you all again!

More Answers



answers from Indianapolis on

I commend you for acknowledging that you need to make the next step and for putting your son's best interests first.

My recommendation would be to get a family physician as quickly as possible.

Call your insurance or go to their website and see who the participating providers are. You'll also need to verify what kind of plan you and if a referral for a therapist is needed from your Primary Care provider. Then, you'll need to call offices to see who is accepting new patients. They'll need to see you for a physical at which you can explain your symptoms.

Primary care providers can certainly prescribe medications, but I'm a big believer in both medications (to balance hormones) and therapy to help talk through what's going on.

I'd been using SSRIs (antidepressent medications) prior to having both kids, but when I struggled with learning to live again after cancer, I chose to seek therapy - it helped me understand myself better than I could have on medication (I chose not to medicate following chemo).

There are several different medications on the market. Not every product will work the same in each patient. So, I'd recommend doing some research (preferably on trusted medical sites such as WebMD or, Google health, etc.) and asking the physician/pharmacist their opinion.

Here's some information that might help (this is not a comprehensive list):
SSRIs - Selective Seratonin Reuptake Inhibitors
Prozac (generic - fluoxetine)

SNRIs - Seratonin Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors
Pristiq/Effexor XR

There's also Abilify and Wellbutrin that work a little differently.

Best wishes! Hoping you find yourself on the other side of this soon.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Dayton on

I would find a doctor to talk too. Maybe if you have a church you like talk to a pastor or priest.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

Congrats to you for being willing to get help! Please know that you are not defective or broken in anyway. Our bodies do SOOO much for us on a weekly, daily and hourly basis it's hard to believe that the body can keep up!

Depression runs in my family. I have learned that it is a chemical imbalance...sometimes as simple as your body not creating enough.

I would start with your OB/GYN. Since you are comfortable with them I would ask for a referral, first to a general practitioner and then also to a "specialist" for depression. I think any good doctor would want you to get a full check up before they started treating you.

In answer to your question about BFing and taking meds, YES! There is medication that is approved to treat depression during and after pregnancy.

Also, please talk with your doctor about OTHER ways to treat your depression. Dealing with your stress. The foods you eat. The amount of sleep you get. The amount of sunlight you get/your Vitamin D levels. And of course, your "other" chemical levels.

You are doing a GREAT thing, not only for your son, but yourself and your husband. If you aren't 100%, then you can't give 100%. Congrats to you! Talk openly with your doctors. Tell them ALL of your symptoms and concerns so they can help you be there for your family.

Best wishes and **HUGS**

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Houston on

If it were me, I would find a general practice doctor first and get a complete physical just to make sure there is nothing there that could be causing your problems. Once they've eliminated any possible physiological cause they can refer you to a psychologist.

You also should check with your insurance to see if they require any type of referral prior to finding a psychologist.

My husband has been on Cymbalta for a few years now and it has made a world of difference in his anxiety and depression. I was hard to get him to the point of admitting he needed help, but once he did his life changed dramatically.

Good luck,

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Columbus on

there are many ways to deal with this. you can start with any doctor. or contact your insurance company to find accepted counselors in your area. it has been proven that the best treatment is both therapy and anti-depressants if needed. Therapy may work for you. You will also want to seek a Psychiatrist regarding the medication. A psychologist does not give medication, only psychiatrists. And, although doctors can prescribe, they do not have the extensive training and experience to know which are best and which are safe for you and your son. Bottom line, find a therapist. the sooner you get started the sooner you feel better. Also, meds are not an instant fix and do not work for everyone so therapy can help with coping skills. find people you like to help you. good luck and remember over 1/3 of ppl have depressive symptoms at some point.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Cleveland on

It depends on your insurance... some insurances won't cover a psychologist unless you are refured to them by a family doctor. So, I'd check w/ your insurance to see which way you need to go. Also, some family doctors will be able to help you out some when it come to anti-depressents and the quesitons you have about them.

Yes, any medication you take will go through you, into your milk and then into the baby. I'm not sure if or what meds are safe, but a doc should be able to help you with that question. Many moms nurse & take meds w/ no issues appearing in the baby.

When did you cut back on breastfeeding?? Was it about the sametime you started getting worse?? Reason I ask is because I don't go through "post-partem depression" untill I stop nursing, because of the hormone changes when you stop nursing. Nursing kinda post-pones the hormone change in some women - which it does me. Yes, I have battled depression through out my life, but have refused medication even when I was hospitalized for depression and thoughts of death when I was 13... I told the doctors that I didn't want to deal w/ my issues on meds and then have to do it again when I was taken off the meds... I wanted to do it once. At that point in my life I hadn't accepted my brothers death and I blamed myself for it eventhough I wasn't at the accident site. And it causes major issues with me, but 20 years later I still have issues with it - but I can't make it through the day... then I didn't think I could.

One thing I do want to say is that you have taken the first step - admitting their is an issue. Keep going in the fight to get things better in you & your son's life. Take Care!!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Topeka on

Well the first thing is your admitting you may have a problem with depression and that is good that is a relief.I'm 30 and have had depression since I was 14 yrs old I was on meds heavy duty back in the teenage yrs now i'm on them when needed.I have 3 kids my post partum started after my 2nd child and still is going wioth the 3rd now it is back to depression and generalized anxiety.The drug that is most commonlu used during pregnancy and brestfeeding is Zoloft i'm on 25 mgs to take the edge off went upto 50 mgs weined off for a few months now going to get started again on it gradually going up to 100 mgs but as my dr mentioned that may be way to much for me since i;m unable to handle medications meaning the side effects can become unbareable to me that I have to wein off.Finding a good drug is hard is different with everybody as lonag as yo have a good dr and he or she is able to work with you I find that to be really helpful I would begin with a primary care dr since you have an older baby an Ob would be ok too then he may referr you to see a psychologist ot you can seek one yourself it's up to you however a psychologist knows about mental health and where to begin. I see my primary care dr because he is excellent and a great listener also was referred to see a counselor for talk therapy.Any questions feel free to send a personal message.I would like to mention research your meds read the insert before taking them if you don't like ehat it says call and ask ?'s to the dr who prescribed them to you

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Philadelphia on

Yes! You can take antidepressants while breastfeeding. Most of them are safe in reasonable doses, and the most commonly recommended and safest is Zoloft. I would talk to your ob/gyn and have them refer you somewhere. Good luck to you!



answers from Philadelphia on

I know how you feel and going to a psychatrist is my suggestion. I am bipolar and suffer with bouts of depression. There are some medications you can take while nursing and others you can't. It's hard to find a psychatrist so start your search asap, so you can get the help you need. Medications are wonderful, but take some time to start working. Things will get better.



answers from Los Angeles on

Hi, O.,

I recommend going straight to a psychotherapist (either a psychologist, a practiitoner who has a PhD or PsyD, or psychotherapist, who has a MSW/LCSW, MFT, or similar license). Yes, some antidepressants, such as Paxil, are considered acceptable medications for nursing women and their babies. An MD (a general practitioner or psychiatrist) could prescribe you medication. I would talk to a psychotherapist first, though, to delve into what might be contributing to your depression and what to do about your depression. Most general practitioners don't have time. Also, mental health issues are not the focus (area of expertise) for most physicians.

In finding a psychotherapist, here are my two cents as someone who has experienced major depression and a doctoral psychology student who comes from a family of psychologists and psychotherapists: ask for references from people you know if you are comfortable doing so and look for providers on mental health provider bulletin boards on-line. Odds are that many of the therapists will look the same. They may claim to have an eclectic orientation, which roughly means that they combine different therapeutic orientations or approaches into their practice. (I find the term "eclectic" very vague and thus not very helpful.) I can describe some of the approaches in some detail if you want additional information. To find a provider that really helps you, you may need to interview a few. My rule of thumb is "Give a provider three sessions to show me that we are a good "fit" and that he or she can help me improve at least a little. Do any homework or assignments if given any. Move on to the next provider after the third session if I wonder whether I'm getting anything out of the sessions." Writing brief notes after sessions can help one decide whether the therapy is helpful. Writing is also a form of therapy unto itself.

I don't know whether you have health insurance or how much money you have to spend out of pocket on psychotherapy. While using health insurance with a co-pay as low as $4/session may seem the most cost effective route to some, I've found that paying 100% out of pocket more cost effective as I've received much more effective therapy from providers who accept cash but not insurance. (I would rather pay 100% for 4 very effective sessions, ones that help establish lasting positive effects, than only 5% for twenty ineffective sessions, ones that make me feel aggravated and make me think that I'm wasting my time. The cost for the first option might be $600, The cost for the latter might be $50.) Only you can decide what's best for you.

If individual psychotherapy is cost prohibitive, then you might sign up for a depression support group. Sometimes support groups are wonderful. Support group therapy can often help people develop coping skills and feel significantly better. It can also lead to the formation of strong friendships.

Mindfulness, which includes meditation, may also be very beneficial. I recommend that everyone, depressed or not, try it! I recommend reading Jon Kabat-Zinn's book, Full Catastrophe Living, and listening to Belleruth Naperstek's guided imagery CDs. After listening to Naperstek's CDs or CDs by my instructor, Gloria Kamler, I feel as though I've just spent a day at the spa.

Best wishes,


answers from Columbia on

Hi O..
I'm sorry you are suffering with depression, and am proud of you for taking the steps to get the support you need. I think a good place to start would be finding a family doctor who can give you a good check-up to make sure there aren't any underlying health issues that might be making you feel this way. (I understand you have had these feelings most of your life, but they always check.) The family doctor may prescribe you medication and also refer you to a psychologist who can offer other support. There are medications that are safe for nursing moms, so just make sure to ask your doctor about that.
God bless and good luck as you seek out the help you need. You will be a better mom and a happier person. It's not easy admitting that you need help, and you are courageous for doing so.
Hang in there!



answers from Philadelphia on

I know you've got a ton of good answers on this, but I just had to share that my depression/anxiety started right at the same time yours is - my son was 2. I suffered with it for about 6 months and it got so bad that I questioned why I married my husband and what I was thinking when I had my son. After I hit that rock bottom period, believe it or not, the first person I spoke with was my Mom. I'm not sure of how your relationship is with your Mom, but we're pretty close. So, I unleashed everything I was thinking and feeling. We talked for a while and I felt a little better. Then after it wouldn't go away, I spoke at length with my husband. Looking back now, I can't figure out why I would question our marriage whatsoever. He encouraged me to go to our doctor and also to speak with him when I start having the odd thoughts and feelings so that I hopefully won't go into such a state again. My family really helped me through this. My doctor also prescribed Lexapro for me at that time that did wonders. I'm currently pregnant again, so I had to go off of my medication, but I seem to be doing well. It seems that my problems seemed to have been stemming from my hormonal changes during the menstrual cycle, so getting that checked out might be a good idea too. I know it was probably hard to admit to yourself that you have a problem, but I'm sure you'll find the support you need to come out of it. Lots of luck to you!!!


answers from Austin on

Welcome to Mamapedia!
Good for you admitting you need some help! I have been there too at different times. The first time I realized I was not at my best or my normal self, I felt weak. I felt like everybody else handled this, why couldn't I?

Go to your primary care doctor and get a check up. You need to make sure your body is healthy so that you can place that to the side. Giving birth really changes everything inside your body for years, so this is not unusual.

They can also give you a referral to a therapist who will then also do a check up on your emotional status. It will be nice for you to have a "safe place to actually say what you are really feeling out loud. I was always worried if I said what I was really thinking, I would hurt the feelings of others around me. This helped a lot to be able to speak my truth and get an outside perspective.

I am sending you strength.



answers from Pittsburgh on

You are very courageous to have taken the first step and reach out for help. Its hard to admit when we are struggling! Others have said lots of good things. I'm just going to add that for people with ongoing or repeating symptoms of depression, a special form of mindfulness and meditation training has been developed which helps people to stay medication free, and not to relapse. Look up Jon Kabat-Zinn and see if anyone in your area does mindfulness and meditation training for depression based on his methods. He also has a few good books out that you can get on Amazon. You may need to be treated by a counselor / doctor first, but its been terrific for a friend of mine in terms of helping her not to relapse. The group support when you go to one of these things is just as powerful as the meditation probably, but it makes a HUGE difference to practice meditation and/or yoga each day. Good luck. x



answers from Altoona on

I would call your gynie!



answers from Minneapolis on

Hang in there mama! I’ve totally been there. I’ve struggled with depression off and on since college. Here are some things that have helped me get through some of the rough times.
1. Yoga has been an incredible release for me. It is my time to relax and start over. I feel like I get a restart every time I go and I look forward to it. Check out They have a work for trade program where you can clean the studio once a week for a couple hours in exchange for free, unlimited yoga.
2. Anti-depressants can help in the short-term to help you get back up on your feet, or long-term if you need them to maintain balance and stability in your life. Millions of people are on medications, so try to have judgment on yourself.
3. An alternative treatment for depression and anxiety is an herbal supplement called Luminex. Do some research and look into it further. It contains natural ingredients including St Johns Wart, griffonia seed, folate, and vitamin B12 that help with depression and anxiety. My husband and I both started taking it last month and we noticed a difference within a couple of days. Let me know if you are interested or have any questions.


answers from Pittsburgh on

Hi O.! Welcome! This really is a great site and I hope you find lots of things to share here! The first step is to find a good doctor and get a complete physical including blood work. Keep in mind that just because your son is 2 does not mean that you are not suffering from PPD. Depression is nothing to be ashamed of! I have was diagnosed with diabetes almost 2 years ago...and they are finding that with all that diabetes effects depression is a very real concern. So when I started to notice that I was very extreme in my feelings with a disturbing lack of control, with very blue peroids inbetween I talked to my endoconologist and she started me on a very low dose of zoloft about 6 or so months ago. The change was gradual, but it has been GREAT!!! Sure I still get mad, happy, sad, etc, but things are easier to handle, I feel more in control and overall happier. I am sooo lucky I have a great doctor that takes the time to listen to me! Meds do not always have to be the answer either....sometimes just having a counsler to vent to can be very beneficial as well! Your mental health is just as important as your physical health and you owe it to yourself and your family to take complete care of yourself! Get that physical and make sure that there is no chemical reason why you are depressed, then go from may need to wean your son, but at age 2 it won't hurt him...actually you may feel the loss more than he will. Best wishes.


answers from Allentown on

Hi, O.:

Start by consulting with your breastfeeding consultant at the La Leche League at

See what they suggest.

Good luck. D.



answers from Pittsburgh on


My heart goes out to you. I had PPD after my son was born and it made life so very difficult. Since you are in Pittsburgh, let me recommend the Behavioral Health Services at Magee. Their website is That was where I was seen, and they have both councilors and psychiatrists on site (like, in rooms right next to each other!) so the care is really integrated and convienient. I was on up to 100 mg of Zoloft while I was breastfeeding-- it is considered the safest drug (studies have found that there are no detectable levels in the blood of kids whose moms were taking it and exclusively breastfeeding), but there are others that are acceptable while breastfeeding. The great thing is that they are very up on the breastfeeding issues there. Another resource is the Breastfeeding Center of Pittsburgh, which is staffed by MDs who are Lactation Consultants as well. It was one of the doctors there (Nancy Brent) who suspected my PPD and urged me to get help. Their phone number is ###-###-####, and they could answer any questions you have. Because they are MDs (or IBCLCs supervised by MDs) they can bill insurance, so it's just like a "sick visit" for your kid). Anyway, especially since you are only breastfeeding twice a day, the meds issues are probably even less of an issue-- do not let that stop you from getting care. There is considerable evidence that it is unhealthier for a child to be taken care of by a depressed mom than by any exposure they get to an antidepressant. Bottom line: let the doctors worry about what meds to give you-- they will find something that works for you both.

I agree with the other moms-- just because your kid is 2, don't discount PPD. My psychiatrist told me that the kids learning to walk and weaning are 2 of the most common triggers for PPD, and both of those can happen at well over a year. In the end, it doesn't really matter what you call it, but it does matter that you get help. Zoloft saved my relationship with my child and maybe my life. Do not let another day go by feeling this way. You will be amazed how much better you can feel.



answers from Philadelphia on

Hi O.,
First thing first. Let's figure out where you are, then we'll figure out where you have to go. Many things can cause symptoms and depression is certainly one of them. Getting a clear picture of your current health status is the first step. Getting a good workup of blood chemistries and nutrient status would be an excellent start.
I am a chirpractor and my philosophy is to figure out if there is too much of something you don't need in your body(toxicity) or not enough of something you do need (deficiency). This way if medication is truly indicated, you won't be endangering yourself or your child unnecessarily.
I know of a holistic MD in Villanova, Pa: Lisa Beth Freedman ###-###-####
She can do panels for thyroid, adrenals, nutrition,immune system, heavy metals and more I'm sure.
If the location is unrealistic, I would call her for a reference at the very least.
Being a chiropractor who looks to the nerve system to heal our bodies, a neurologic check up with a chiropractor with an Insight Sub station or similar technology would also look at a completely different system of the body that holds stress.
Lastly, you would benefit from working with a family therapist with whom you can discuss goals, problems and solutions in your daily life. They would be trained to recognize the point at which medication would have the greatest benefit if necessary. I am sure you know someone who either is a therapist or is seeing one.
Best of luck to you. You may conact me if you like.
J. Melsha DC.

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