The birth of a baby can trigger a jumble of powerful emotions, from excitement and joy to fear and anxiety. But it can also result in some feelings that you might not expect. This article describes the treatments and drugs of a very common condition called postpartum depression (PPD) that affects over three million moms in the US alone each year.
What Our Experts Are Saying
Insights, recommendations, and advice for parents balancing babies and the blues from the doctors, subject matter experts and thought leaders in the Modern Parent Project community.
What to Do?
Direct, straightforward and summarized advice and recommendations. Parents, please consider the following insights when navigating the challenging topic of postpartum blues and moods.
What NOT to Do?
The wrong words or actions can sometimes make things worse. Parents, please consider avoiding the following potential traps when navigating the challenging topic of postpartum blues and moods.
Speak openly with your doctor about what you are experiencing.
It’s important to speak openly with your healthcare professional regarding how you are feeling. Though not normal, postpartum mood disorders are very common and you are not alone.
Create a support system who will be there for your through your experience of postpartum mood disorder.
Share how you are feeling with the people you are close to. These people will help make up your support team and will be an integral part to your recovery.
Seek Counseling with someone who specializes in or has worked with postpartum mood disorders.
Having a postpartum mood disorder can be a scary and bewildering experience. Talking with a trained professional who understands your situation will be paramount in your recovery.
Don't keep your feelings to yourself.
It’s important that you share your feelings with both your doctor and your loved ones.
Don't think that you are alone in your struggle.
Postpartum mood disorders are not normal, but they are common, and you do not have to suffer in silence.
Don't believe the lie that you are a bad mom.
Having a postpartum mood disorder does not make you a bad mom. You are struggling with a real illness that is treatable.
Postpartum Treatments and Drugs
Treatment and recovery time vary, depending on the severity of your depression and your individual needs.
The baby blues usually fade on their own within a few days to one to two weeks. In the meantime:
- Get as much rest as you can
- Accept help from family and friends
- Connect with other new moms
- Create time to take care of yourself
- Avoid alcohol and recreational drugs, which can make mood swings worse
Postpartum depression is often treated with psychotherapy (also called talk therapy or mental health counseling), medication or both.
- It may help to talk through your concerns with a psychiatrist, psychologist or other mental health provider. Through therapy, you can find better ways to cope with your feelings, solve problems, set realistic goals and respond to situations in a positive way. Sometimes family or relationship therapy also helps.
- Your doctor may recommend an antidepressant. If you’re breast-feeding, any medication you take will enter your breast milk. However, some antidepressants can be used during breast-feeding with little risk of side effects for your baby. Work with your doctor to weigh the potential risks and benefits of specific antidepressants.
With appropriate treatment, postpartum depression usually goes away within six months. In some cases, postpartum depression lasts much longer, becoming chronic depression. It’s important to continue treatment after you begin to feel better. Stopping treatment too early may lead to a relapse.
Postpartum psychosis requires immediate treatment, often in the hospital. Treatment may include:
- When your safety is assured, a combination of medications — such as antidepressants, antipsychotic medications, and mood stabilizers — may be used to control your signs and symptoms.
- Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT).If your postpartum depression is severe and does not respond to medication, ECT may be recommended. During ECT, a small amount of electrical current is applied to your brain to produce brain waves similar to those that occur during a seizure. The chemical changes triggered by the electrical currents can reduce the symptoms of psychosis and depression, especially when other treatments have failed.
Treatment for postpartum psychosis can challenge a mother’s ability to breast-feed. Separation from the baby makes breast-feeding difficult, and some medications used to treat postpartum psychosis aren’t recommended for women who are breast-feeding. If you’re experiencing postpartum psychosis, your doctor can help you work through these challenges.
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