When family members and friends begin to notice symptoms of depression and anxiety in a woman who has given birth in the past year, they should offer assistance and support immediately. They should also encourage her to discuss her symptoms with her physician.

Treatment for postpartum depression can be as varied as the symptoms. The most common treatments for depression include:

  • Antidepressants
  • Participation in a support group
  • Psychotherapy
  • Self-help.

A simple thyroid test can determine whether a thyroid condition is a cause or contributing factor in postpartum depression.

Postpartum Depression: Getting Help

Some medical and childbirth associations train and certify postpartum doulas, who provide information and resources, as well as physical, emotional and practical support, to pregnant women, mothers and families. Postpartum doulas may:

  • Assist with home care
  • Give bed-rest assistance
  • Help care for siblings
  • Offer one-on-one care
  • Prepare meals
  • Run errands
  • Teach relaxation and massage.

Postpartum doulas do not perform any clinical care, however; this role is strictly non-medical.

Women with postpartum depression must experiment to find the right combination of treatments. Often, multiple treatments are the most effective. Some women find that talking with other mothers in a support group is enough. Other women need antidepressants or individual psychotherapy. Whatever combination is recommended or works best, self-care is essential.

Self-Care Treatment for Postpartum Depression

After giving birth, take care of yourself and get plenty of rest. It’s particularly important to pay close attention to your own health if you think you’re suffering from the symptoms of postpartum depression. If you have recently given birth and you’re feeling abnormally sad, anxious or overwhelmed, ask for help. Don’t wait for someone to offer assistance. Seek emotional support from your husband or partner, family or friends.

Small actions can have large results during treatment for postpartum. Things you can do include:

  • Calling a hotline or your birthing center to access information and services
  • Getting dressed and leaving the house for at least a short time each day
  • Joining a support group for other postpartum depression sufferers
  • Talking with other mothers to learn from their experiences
  • Trying to spend time alone with your partner.

Postpartum Depression Therapy

If your postpartum depression doesn’t respond to self-care strategies, seek professional care. Ask your physician to advise you on possible medical treatments. Be assertive about your concerns. Not all health care professionals recognize the symptoms or seriousness of postpartum depression. If possible, get a referral to a mental health professional that specializes in treating postpartum depression.

Some therapists are experienced at helping women who are suffering from postpartum depression. A therapist who specializes in postpartum depression treatment can provide a safe, comforting and confidential setting for a woman to begin understanding her depression.

Postpartum Depression Medication

Therapists may recommend the use of antidepressants as a supplement to postpartum depression therapy. Many women are hesitant to take an antidepressant, particularly if they are breastfeeding. Be sure to inform your therapist or doctor that you are breastfeeding if antidepressants are prescribed.

Resources

Gregoire, A.J., Kumar, R., Everitt, B., et al. (1996). Transdermal oestrogen for treatment of severe postnatal depression. Lancet, 347(9006), 930-933.

Hendrick, V., Smith, L.M., Hwang, S., Altshuler, L.L., Haynes, D. (2003, April). Weight gain in breastfed infants of mothers taking antidepressant medications. Journal of Clinical Psychiatry 64(4): 410-412.

McEwen, B.S. (1993). Ovarian steroids have diverse effects on brain structure and function. The Modern Management of Menopause, 269-278. Berg, G. and Hammar, M. (ed). Parthenon Publishing, New York.

 Posted on : June 26, 2014