Why You Shouldn’t Lie About Your Postpartum Depression Symptoms

postpartum depression symptomsOne of the things I’ve always told moms with postpartum depression who are headed to see their doc or therapist is this: Tell them EVERYTHING. Don’t hold back. Don’t lie about or leave out any of your postpartum depression symptoms.

Are you sleeping? How much? If not, is it that you can’t fall asleep, or you can fall asleep but you wake up later and can’t fall asleep after that?

Are you eating? Really eating?

How do you feel about yourself right now? Doing okay or wanting to crawl under a rock or run away? Have you thought about hurting yourself? Have you hurt yourself in any way?

What about your head, what’s going on in there? Are you having thoughts that scare the crap out of you? What-if thoughts that make you wonder whether you’re some kind of monster?

Are you getting support? Are you able to ask for support, or are you turning away the people trying to help?

Are you concerned about even being in this doctor’s office? Do you distrust him or her, or are you afraid of telling the truth, or are you afraid of certain types of treatment?

Say it. Say it all. Lay bare each and every one of your postpartum depression symptoms. If this person has any kind of experience treating moms with postpartum depression or anxiety or PTSD or antenatal depression then they’ve heard it all before. What’s happening to you or what you are feeling is not going to make them fall off the couch, or run screaming out of the room, or hit you over the head with the nearest blunt object. It’s not, because they know you have an illness and they know the kind of things that can happen with an illness like yours, and if they know exactly what’s going on with you then they’ll be able to help you SO MUCH MORE EFFECTIVELY.

And if, for whatever reason, they really aren’t good at this stuff and they make you feel uncomfortable, or they’re not willing to give you explanations and descriptions and side effects and considerations, then you can always get up and walk out and go elsewhere.

I’m thinking of all of this because of Karen Kleiman’s great Psychology Today piece about lying in therapy. People don’t lie outright, she says, as much as they just leave things out. Don’t mention certain postpartum depression symptoms or new unhealthy coping mechanism. “Forgot” to mention your intrusive thoughts? Cutting? Increased alcohol usage? Current abusive relationship? She lists several reasons why people lie in therapy, and then explains, “Lies of omission will either drastically postpone valuable therapeutic work or it can totally derail the process. You are wasting your time and your money if you lie to your therapist.”

It’s true. It really is. Don’t lie mamas. Lay it out there.

Photo credit: © creative soul – Fotolia.com

About Katherine Stone

is the founder of Postpartum Progress. She has been named a WebMD Health Hero, one of the fiercest women in America by More magazine, and one of the top 20 Social Media Moms by Working Mother magazine. She is a survivor of postpartum OCD.

Tell Us What You Think


  1. Great advice… but oh so hard.

    I remember being terrified that If I told someone the thoughts I was thinking, they would snatch my baby away as soon as it was born and I would never get to see it ever again. I had to take my husband along to my first appointment so he could tell them, and even then I was weeks before I fully “fessed up” about the exact content of my thoughts.

  2. sarah freeman says:

    I am not sure about this advice too, I took husband along, made it clear I was a good mother, in fact I remember the psych asking me ” are you a good mum?” and I was SOO pleased he asked as I knew completely utterly “YES” and could say it, but it took me yonks to say stuff, and to realise I wasnt saying things even. It wasnt until one doctor picked up my very small mentions of something awful and made them completely normal, that I felt free to tell him, and he made it a completely normal part of my symptom list.
    I’m not actually completely sure that doctors DO know about symptoms that include thoughts of harming your child, and that thats all they are, hideous etc but only a symptom. I think PN OCD esp has still to filter through to the medical people.

  3. The first time depression hit me, I lied. To everyone. “I’m fine!” That was in college. I ended up spending spring break of my senior year in the psych ward. By the time I stopped lying, an *email* to my therapist asking for more meds because “I spent last night thinking of ways I might kill myself” seemed totally normal. I was actually shocked when he hospitalized me.

    Two weeks ago, when I felt depressed again in a big way, I thought about what I did the first time and did the opposite: I told everyone. On Twitter, over email, on GChat, on my blog. I just talked and talked. I’m really amazed at the difference it makes. I feel lighter, in a very real way, after I talk, even if it feels awful to cry it out in the moment.

  4. Excellent post! the first step to dealing with a problem is admitting it’s there.


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