How To Get A Depression Diagnosis

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Mental health stigmas are common so there's a lack of information on how to get diagnosed with depression and how to talk to your doctor about depression.

jennifer gaskell depression and anxiety

Mental Health Issues Aren't Discussed Nearly Enough

Struggling with mental health is something that isn't discussed nearly enough. A woman who is wondering if her depression symptoms are, indeed, depression tends to keep these thoughts to herself for much longer than, say, if she had a headache, a cold, or a broken arm. Because as a society our dialogue around mental health issues is lacking, there's a bigger problem of women not knowing the language to use when beginning the mental health conversation with a medical professional. So even when they're ready to ask for help, they often don't, simply because they don't know where to start. On VProud there's a mental health video about this very topic. It starts, as they say, at the very beginning—who to talk to first and what to say to them when you get into their doctor's office. Mother, writer, and actress Jen Gaskell reflects on this video from the extremely personal perspective of someone who has been there. Take a look at what Jen reveals about her early days of depression and how it took both community and conversation coupled with talking to a mental health professional to help her get to the other side of depression.

—The VProud Team

how to get diagnosed with depression

Terror Of The Trained Professional And 

The Stigma Of Mental Illness

By Jen Gaskell for VProud

I was terrified out of my mind to bring up my mental health concerns with my doctor. At the time I only had an ob/gyn because my primary care doctor had recently left her practice. In the midst of postpartum depression and postpartum anxiety, I could not make one simple phone call for an appointment. It felt like an insurmountable task. It is absolutely the doctor’s job to help treat your entire health; however, not all medical doctors are well versed in mental health. I was hesitant to reach out to my ob/gyn because I was not confident in the support that she could provide me for an initial consultation.

I instead turned to the Internet to find out what I might be struggling with. I found Postpartum Progress, a blog that deals with perinatal mood and anxiety disorders. They had resources and explanations of symptoms that were geared toward a struggling mom. I spoke with my husband who gently told me that he felt I had struggled through my entire pregnancy. I wrote down exactly what I wanted to say when I made the appointment with my therapist. I sat and waited. After 24 hours without a response, I reached out to another key support person, a dear friend who is also a licensed social worker. I confided in her that I thought I was struggling with postpartum anxiety and that I wanted to be seen as soon as possible. I wasn’t in danger of harming myself, but I felt like I was in true crisis. I received a call back from the therapist the following day, and two days later I had my first therapy session. I received my diagnosis, and we began a treatment plan.

Postpartum Progress helped me find a community of women who had also struggled with postpartum mood disorders. I found a group of bloggers who were mental health bloggers; this sparked my passion to write and advocate about mental health issues. I made friends, and I was able to share my story openly. Stigma is still so very real. With the support of my husband, I began telling my story to my inner circle of family and friends. Now I bring it up in casual conversation because I am not my diagnosis. I am not my illness. It is a part of me, but it does not define me. refuse to let shame and fear consume my ability to live my life authentically.

jennifer gaskell vproud
About the author: Jen Gaskell is a wife, mom, business professional, writer, singer, runner, and yogi. She lives in a small town in Wisconsin on beautiful Lake Michigan with her husband and two young daughters. Jen is a co-producer/co-director of Listen To Your Mother Show Milwaukee. Jen's writing can be found on her blog Tranquila Mama, and she is also a regulator contributor to Postpartum Progress. Join Jen's honest conversations on VProud.

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