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Getting help for postpartum depression

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Globe and Mail Update

Dr. Valerie Whiffen takes your questions on women’s mental health

Postpartum depression affects 10 to 15 per cent of new mothers, compared with about 2.5 per cent of women of child-bearing age in the general population who suffer from severe depression.

Julie Cugali, like many women who struggle with postpartum depression, put on her happy mom face and struggled with the demons of depression behind closed doors. The 32-year-old Gatineau, Que., mother tried about 12 different antidepressants, but it wasn’t until she sought psychological help did the cloud begin to lift. “To be honest, I was a skeptic about therapy: I mean, how can you get better by just talking? But it worked.”

Valerie Whiffen, a Vancouver-based psychologist, says internalizing and hiding the problem is a common reaction. “The main reason women don’t seek professional help for their depression is they don’t want to admit that they’re not happy about the joyful event of motherhood like everyone expects them to be,” she says.

Dr. Valerie Whiffen is a psychologist in private practice in the Vancouver area, and an adjunct professor of psychology at the University of Ottawa. Her primary research and clinical interests are gender and depression. In her 20 years as a researcher, university professor, and therapist, she has published more than 50 professional and research papers, and two books. Her latest book, A Secret Sadness: The Hidden Relationship Patterns that Make Women Depressed , explores the reasons women are at risk for depression.

Dr. Whiffen will be online Tuesday, October 27 at 12:30 ET to take your questions on women’s mental health and postpartum depression. To jump the queue, please submit your questions in advance in the box below, or by using the comments section of this page.

Editor’s Note: globeandmail.com editors will read and allow or reject each question/comment. Comments/questions may be edited for length or clarity. We will not publish questions/comments that include personal attacks on participants in these discussions, that make false or unsubstantiated allegations, that purport to quote people or reports where the purported quote or fact cannot be easily verified, or questions/comments that include vulgar language or libellous statements. Preference will be given to readers who submit questions/comments using their full name and home town, rather than a pseudonym.

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