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The Power of a Second Opinion

posted Mar 16, 2015, 9:29 PM by AndrewandSarah Witzel

Receiving an accurate diagnosis and solid treatment plan for your perinatal mood disorder is essential, but is not always easy. Because these mental health conditions are still misunderstood and likely underdiagnosed, health care professionals may fail to diagnose and treat them properly.

So what can you do when your health care worker downplays your symptoms, or gives you a diagnosis that you don’t believe is true? My OB/GYN minimized the symptoms of my mood disorder at my 6 week check-up, attributing my anxiety and trouble sleeping to just being a new mom, despite her being aware of my history of depression. I suspected that this wasn’t true, but unfortunately believed her despite my misgivings. This delayed my diagnosis.

In retrospect, I should have sought a second opinion immediately after this check-up with the OB instead of waiting for the next scheduled visit with a health professional (my daughter’s 2 month vaccinations). I could have talked to a counselor, another physician, or even told my OB about my disagreement with her. For my next baby, I will do better because I know better.

The issue may also be the proposed treatment plan, rather than the diagnosis. Some health care workers are reluctant to prescribe medication for pregnant or breastfeeding women, even though the benefit outweighs the risks in many cases. Conversely, your practitioner may hand you a prescription with no other avenues for support, such as counselling, which would also be a concern.

Sometimes women worry about offending their primary care practitioner by seeking a second opinion, from another doctor, or another health care professional altogether. Remember that you are the boss of your own health, you know yourself better than anyone else does, and an inaccurate diagnosis or substandard care plan will negatively affect both you and your family. You are entitled to a second opinion, and it may be life-changing.

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